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Unlocking the Full Potential of the Natural History Museum Collections with Computed Tomography

CT Allows Non-Destructive Study of Animal Specimens 

Edward Stanley, PhD, of the California Academy of Sciences Department of Herpetology, shows how lizard researchers are using computed tomography to study reptiles and amphibians with non-destructive testing methods.

Instead of preserving fragile specimens in freezers, on boards, or in jars, scientists worldwide can share their natural history collections digitally using incredibly detailed 3D reconstructions of ancient dinosaurs or modern day lizards. CT provides a level of accuracy and insight that has never been possible before, in a way that preserves the specimens for future use.


Scientists across many disciplines—from epidemiology to paleontology—can examine hundreds of millions of samples taken from life on Earth. Watch this 25-minute video to learn about:

  • Research and test objectives and methodologies
  • How specimens were prepared for CT analysis
  • How researchers analyzed ancient specimens without using destructive methods
  • Scientists from different locations around the world used the data to collaborate 

Bats Inside Out: Using CT Technology to Reveal the Internal Anatomy of Bat Skulls

Non-Destructive X-ray Inspection for Biology Research

Abigail Curtis, a postdoctoral fellow at the American Museum of Natural History in New York, demonstrates how computed tomography reveals unexpected scientific insights into bat physiology. Digital reconstructions of modern and fossilized samples enable research into how bat species have developed specialized anatomy for eating, communicating and locating food. Most importantly, researchers are sharing digital scans of bats to collaborate on a global scale.

Using X-ray technology, researchers, manufacturers, and designers from any industry can learn the most amazing things about the products, parts and 
samples they care about. Watch this 25-minute video to learn some fascinating things about CT, as applied to the life science of bat research. You'll see:

  • Bats bigger than cats, and bats as tiny as the tip of your thumb.
  • How researchers found anatomical structures that were isolated and studied separately from skull CT images.
  • How researchers were able to use the CT image data to collaborate from various locations around the world.

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