UW to catalog every fish species in world

The project is revolutionary and could have huge research implications.

The University of Washington’s Friday Harbor laboratory is considered one of the top marine labs in the world, and one of its biggest projects is CT scanning and cataloging every fish species in the world – some 66,000.

About 2,700 are finished.

Each scan can take hours, some 12 hours or more. But smaller fish can be grouped together in one tube.

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The fish are laboratory specimens preserved in alcohol. They are the prime example of their species, and some specimens are preserved in museums and over a century old.

Most scans are of the bone structure, but muscle and other tissue can be scanned if staining with iodine is deemed appropriate.

The scanning is considered revolutionary, because the internal organs of the animal can be observed in place, without being disrupted through dissection. How that information can be used to study the evolution of fish and other species is also far-reaching.