We’ve been quietly portaging our drawer images to the GigaPan website over these last few months, and more than 1,100 are now available for perusal and annotation. We’ve also partnered with other taxonomists and a library scientist to re-purpose many of the images and to more rigorously explore their utility. More on that later. Right now I want to highlight our first nano-scale GigaPan(!):
This little ensign wasp (Hymenptera: Evaniidae: Acanthinevania sp.), collected in western Victoria, is not quite 1 cm long … and yet it took almost 2,200 individual images to create this GigaPan. It was several days work (thanks István!!!) at the compound ’scope, with numerous sets of stacked micrographs required to account for all the three-dimensionality exhibited by this specimen. The resolution is excellent—one can even distinguish the comb-like structure of the probasitarsal notch (part of the antenna cleaner)! See below.
Was this micrograph worth the effort? Yes. As a resource for teaching people about Hymenoptera, or at least Evaniidae, it’s beautiful. We also employed this GigaPan, with the site’s built-in annotation and visualization tools, as part of an outreach / learning exercise for the Hymenoptera Anatomy Ontology (HAO) project. It worked like a charm. And behind the curtain we are setting this image up as an object for formal SVG overlay annotations to illustrate the HAO and as a specimen for redescription using new methods. More on that very soon.
Are we ready to do this for lots of specimens? Not quite. It was extraordinarily labor-intensive. We will likely train one of our technicians to create these kinds of GigaPans and then do several more hymenopterans (across the phylogeny of the order) for the HAO’s glossary website. In the meantime we’d love to hear your comments. We’ll even take requests! What insect(s) would you like to see imaged at high resolution?