Lab Updates June 2015


Data Collection in Tring: 3D Scanning

Over the last month, our efforts have switched from scanning species from islands, to scanning a species from every genus.

Phylogeny showing genus level coverage >70%:   Blue=Scanned, Yellow=Not Scanned

Phylogeny showing genus level coverage >70%:  
Blue=Scanned, Yellow=Not Scanned

As a result, we have now 3D scanned at least one species from over 70% genera. This includes scanning nearly every genus from the largest avian family, the tyrant flycatchers (Tyrannidae). Tyrant flycatchers are one of the trickier species that we scan, as they have fine hooks at the beak tip and feathers around the beak that are particularly bristly and fluffy. Combined, these factors make each scan more noisy and so more difficult to align into the complete 3D model. Now the MechScan has finished with these, we can focus on some of the easier to scan genera and so increase the scanning rate.

Our larger scanner, the R3X, has also been targeting genera, but has additionally completed scanning 100% of the following families: kiwis (Apterygidae), skuas (Stercorariidae) and thick-knees (Burhinidae). We are hoping to take this scanner into the large skins collection during the next stint of data collection, and 3D scan the species with larger beaks that are too big to be housed in the main collection (e.g storks (Ciconiidae), pelicans (Pelecanidae), albatross (Diomedeidae)).

To date we have scanned:

  • 3534 (35.36%) Species
  • 1509 (72.17%) Genera
  • 1814 (30.40%) Passerines
  • 1717 (42.64%) NonPasserines

Mark My Bird

Our crowdsourcing website, Mark My Bird, is in the final stages of beta testing and so will be going live over the next few weeks! Mark My Bird will greatly speed up the process of post-processing our 3D scans. Keep an eye out on our website and twitter feed for updates on how to take part!


Talks were given at two conferences this month. Firstly, Gavin and Chris C attended the EU Macro 2015 conference at the University of Copenhagen (14th-16th June), with Chris presenting an ignite talk on the projects initial findings. Chris also attended and presented at Evolution 2015 (26th-30th June) in Guarujá, Brazil. You can watch Chris giving his talk by clicking here.



Back in Sheffield, Jen has been landmarking more species to go into the projects initial morphospace.

Twitter and #BeakoftheWeek

The team’s twitter account has gained lots of new followers this month, mainly thanks to Gavin’s excellent tweeting during EUMacro, Chris’s conference talks, and our weekly #BeakoftheWeek competition. Elliot has constructed a wonderful new Beak of the Week leaderboard for the website. Here, you can also view images of previous ‘Beaks of the Week’, and links through to blogs about each species.

Other Lab News

Team member, Chris Moody got married. Congratulations Chris and Kathryn!

Team Macrobird making the most of the sparklers at the wedding.

Team Macrobird making the most of the sparklers at the wedding.