How and why have birds diversified? By measuring the shapes of bird bills you can help us to understand the processes that resulted in the world’s 10,000 living bird species.
How you can help
Our team of researchers, based at the University of Sheffield, are taking 3D scans of the bills of all of the world’s bird species from museum collections. The 3D scans are incredibly detailed but before we can use them they require a process called landmarking. Landmarking involves placing points on features of the bill that are common to all specimens. We can use the landmarks to mathematically describe the shape of bills so that we can compare and test how they differ among species. By landmarking our 3D images you can contribute to real science. The digitised data will help us to understand how and why the 10,000 species of birds diversified.
Remarkable birds photos. From top: Red-necked avocet (Recurvirostra novaehollandiae by JJ Harrison) Atlantic puffin (Fratercula arctica by Erik Christensen), Australian pelican (Pelecanus conspicillatus by benjamint444), Sword-billed hummingbird (Ensifera ensifera by Dick Daniels), Rufous hornbill (Buceros hydrocorax by Olaf Oliviero Riemer), Chilean flamingo (Phoenicopterus chilensis by Foncea), Shoebill (Balaeniceps rex by Hans Hillewaert), African spoonbill (Platalea alba by Norbert Nagel), Black skimmer (Rhynchops niger by Terry Foote), Red crossbill (Loxia curvirostra by Elaine R. Wilson), Northern fulmar (Fulmarus glacialis by WhiskyGolf). All images licenced under CC BY-SA 3.0.
Main photo taken by Chris Moody (Copyright, Natural History Museum, London).
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