Who would digitise nature? Over 13 million specimens are waiting

A collection of 13.3 million animal, plant, fungal, mineral and fossil specimens, collected over more than 300 years, is housed at the Finnish Museum of Natural History. In this era of climate change and biodiversity loss they are more important than ever. New techniques allow us to conduct entirely new kinds of research, but first information on the specimens must be entered into databases. How do you transfer more than 13 million natural specimens from the cabinets to the internet?

Published on 21 November 2018, Photo: Pekka Malinen

The aim is to photograph each specimen and transfer it and the accompanying data into a database. Carrying out this undertaking is a complex process that will take years to complete, but the work is of vital importance. To a certain degree, the future of our planet may depend on it. In 2017 the museum digitised more than 350,000 specimens, whereas just a few years ago the annual number was only a few tens of thousands.

You can find the full story in Finnish here.