Evolving to 3D
Images of pinned insects are not only useful for extracting label information but also provide a wealth of morphological information. Entomologists increasingly rely on 2D imagery for morphological analysis, utilizing landmarks or shape-based approaches, yet these approaches result in substantial loss of information when applied to three-dimensional structures, thereby limiting our ability to thoroughly characterize specimens and their traits.
Generating natural-color, 3D representations of biological specimens is a holy grail of specimen digitization. Techniques such as X-ray computed tomography, revolving SEM, laser scanning and photogrammetry have proven useful for capturing the 3D structure of insect specimens, yet little progress has been made implementing robust, production-level methodologies for 3D data capture at scale. Overall, insects comprise a mere 0.3% of the 3D data available in online data repositories such as DigiMorph and MorphoSource.