The initial and primary purpose of this database project was to develop an efficient method for recording images of mammalian crania accurately projected in anatomical standard planes. To prepare thousands of high-resolution and low-distortion images, easy-to-use and economical capturing and digitizing devices were required. In this project, a digital camera with sufficient CCD resolution, equipped with a telephoto lens was used to shoot 11,000 cranial pictures in six different views. Cranial profiles or contours, which have interested us due to their skeletal morphology and biomechanics, would be given numerical data based on the photographic measurement of the digitized images on a computer monitor. Size data would be converted from pixels to millimeters using a scale for each image and verified using four caliper measurements of each cranium.
The second aim was to have the database available on the Internet to teachers, students, and researchers. All the cranial images are included in the web content and are equipped with several searching indexes for convenience. High-resolution cranial images on an anatomical standard plane could help preliminary studies of osteology or supplement lectures in evolutionary biology. These virtual studies, which are based on our bone images, could induce observation of the actual skeletons housed in the museum.
The third purpose was to improve the first database by (1) adding several hundred snapshots of living mammals in zoos and (2) appending cranial pictures of primate species with mandibles. The lay public would be served by the former while professionals would appreciate the latter.
In this second release, our greatest interest has centered on increasing the number of mammalian species, which may facilitate study of interspecific variation among mammals, and may lead bone amateurs to challenge themselves with identifying unknown skulls.
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