PALEONTOLOGY IN THE DIGITAL AGE: DIGITIZING TRIASSIC INSECTS FROM SOLITE QUARRY, VA
Digitization of the Solite insects involves combining a variety of hardware and software. The primary hardware includes a Canon DSLR camera tethered to a computer, a macro lens, and a StackShot motor and rail mounted on a copy stand. For the best results, the specimen is doused with alcohol to increase the contrast against the rock and illuminated with a ring light prior to image capture. Canon EOS Utility software is used to remotely adjust the camera settings and capture the image, while the StackShot motor is used for fine-focus adjustments. After capturing the image, Apple Automator software is used to expedite multiple steps related to the import and export of images into and out of Aperture, our chosen image editor and library. The images are then imported into our database, the Electronic Geological Management System (EGEMS), and the associated specimen information is added.
In order to make this collection available to downstream users (e.g. teachers, students, and researchers), we are working on making the database available online through the VMNH website. In addition, we are planning to incorporate the digitized specimens to supplement the current exhibit on the Solite Quarry and the various fossils that are found there. We are also considering a phone application as both an aid to the exhibit as well as a stand-alone digital exhibit.