Preserved specimens housed in the scientific collections of museums around the world provide basic information about when and where species have been found. In a way, these specimens allow us to time travel, and see what organisms were like in the past. Using these collections, we can discover, for example, that species used to occur in places where now they are gone or we can sample decades-old specimens for viruses, fungi, and more to understand how pathogens have moved around the world over time. For more, see this short summary.
The Blackburn Lab is actively engaged in promoting the digitization of scientific collections. In addition to on-going work with the herpetology collections in the Florida Museum of Natural History, we are working to digitize collections data from other collections. With funding from the JRS Biodiversity Foundation, we digitized and georeferenced specimens of amphibians and reptiles from Angola and Namibia. The oVert TCN and associated partner grants provide digital anatomical data from specimens across US museum collections.