Skeleton of Phoenicopterus ruber

How the Digitalization of the Caribbean flamingo Skeleton was made

The main purpose of this project is to facilitate the access and visibility of bone material for use by students, teachers, medical examiners, forensic experts, and experts in zoology, veterinary medicine, paleontology, archeozoology, among others. On the other hand, access to different scientific or historical collections that are an important and an interesting part of our heritage is limited, and for reasons of security or conservation, are not exposed to the public in a physical way. It would therefore be desirable to increase their visibility and diffusion. The work presented here is a more extensive step, showing the possibilities of applying this methodology to different species of the collections of the Estación Biológica de Doñana-CSIC.

The Caribbean flamengo has been chosen to become the third project to include in the digitized collection the first skeleton from the American continent. With previous projects such as the Iberian Lynx or the Imperial Iberian Eagle, we want to broaden the interest of all Spanish-speaking audiences and spheres. This project has been possible thanks to an aid for activities of scientific dissemination of the Vicerrectorado de Investigación granted to Juan Francisco Beltrán and has been realized jointly by BioScripts and the Dept. of Zoology of the Universidad de Sevilla, on material of the collections of the Estación Biológica de Doñana - CSIC

Técnicas y métodos

1)La elección de la especie y del espécimen

After examining a series of copies of the Estación Biológica de Doñana (EBD-CSIC) collection, Juan Francisco Beltrán selected a skeleton for review. The complete digitization was performed on the species EBD 13586A, whose skeleton was incomplete

Phoenicopterus ruber

2) Photography and measurement phase

A Nikon D300 camera with a Nikkor 105mm f / 2.8 D AF Micro lens was used for shooting. The same dark chamber was used that was used for the digitization of the Imperial Iberian Eagle with a light configuration in which a right main source and a left reflector were used for complete illumination of the bone.

Phoenicopterus ruber

Finally the photos were processed for the correct visualization of the photos, besides the removal of the supports or backgrounds. The number of photographs per turn was maintained for the Iberian lynx, so 50 photos were taken per turn of each of the 52 digitized bones. To this were added 6 standard photographs as they were indicated in the reference book "A guide to the measurement of animal bones from archaeological sites" (Von Den Driesch, 1976). This book was also taken as a reference of the measures that would be necessary to show in the bones.

Phoenicopterus ruber

Measurement was performed manually using a 0.01 mm precision digital Mitutoyo caliper. Finally, a database was made showing the names, their abbreviation and the value of the measure.


3) Design and implementation of the database and the web

For the organization of all the data taken, it is decided to use a MySQL database, with several tables:

  • -Table of information of each one of the bones (52 registers) where the names in English and in Spanish are stored.
  • -Table of frames (or points of measurement) where information was saved from each of the points from which measurements were taken on each of the bones.
  • -Finally, table of measures, where the measures themselves are stored and from what point to what extent the measure was taken.

These three tables relate to each other for all data. Once they had the photos and the database organized, we proceeded to make the website in PHP, HTML and CSS (using the MySQL database). The web page shows a main page where you can see the flamingo skeleton. Clicking on the proper image of the bones can even reach groups of bones or the desired bone. From the screen is redirected to the information sheet of each of the bones where several sections are represented, which are explained below.

  • -Section 360: In this first section you can see the 360º view of the chosen bone
    Phoenicopterus ruber
  • -Standard view section: Below you can see the six photos of the standards that were taken from each bone. If it is clicked on each one of them it shows a window where the view is seen with the different measures taken in the bone, next to its name.
    Phoenicopterus ruber
  • -Measurement section: This section shows a table of each of the measures taken. Clicking on the limb link loads the image and the measurement with its measurement points, for a correct visualization.
    Phoenicopterus ruber

Results and Discussion

The digitalization of the skeleton of the Caribbean flamingo is presented in WEB, encompassed in a larger project called The VirtualMuseum of Life. This digitization of a skeleton has been carried out as it is found in the collections of the Biological Station of Doñana-CSIC.

The potential applications of the Digitalization of the Caribbean flamingo skeleton are very diverse, affecting fields and audiences seemingly different but sharing the same interest in biology. In the first place, the deposited information is a valuable didactic tool for university or secondary teaching.

On the other hand, incorporating standard measures and the possibility of seeing the bones in 360º, there are applications in the fields of veterinary medicine, forensic investigation and archeozoology, among others. In addition, the techniques developed can be translatable to other areas such as archeology, digitization of scientific collections in general (herbaria, insects, malacology, etc ...) and objects whose 360º vision would allow an improved vision, avoiding possible risks of deterioration in handling Of the specimens. This project confirms once again that thanks to information and communication technologies (ICT) it is now possible to realize the value of scientific collections and resources inaccessible to the general public, without a high investment of resources, including economic resources. Bringing the scientific collections to all types of public in this way, can enrich the role of institutions from museums, visitor centers, etc. Until you get to enrich the user experience of the curious user. Therefore, this tool is designed with a close and intuitive structure but without losing scientific rigor.