Sunday, June 12, 2005

Anatomical Atlas of Flies

Pharyngula has found an online Anatomical Atlas of Flies. The site allows you to browse through high-resolution images of flies from different lineages (using Flash); you can even use a magnifying glass to examine tiny anatomical structures.

Fly atlas image
Sample image from the atlas.

The images are extremely high quality; the screenshot above has been reduced by more than 50%. Here's a short description from the site itself:
"[T]he Atlas can be used as a standalone resource to accompany any fly key or as an aid for teaching fly anatomy. The atlas works both ways: users can either click on a part to discover its name, or click on a name to discover the location and shape of a part. Common synonyms for anatomical terms are available from the information button that appears when terms and structures are highlighted."
Unfortunately, the site's authors left out one obvious use: as a very fun toy. Based on personal experience I'm pleased to report that using this site is much more fun than trying to identify fly parts in the field with a magnifying glass and a reference book.

This site is an excellent example of how technology can make learning complex topics easier, and also how technology can reduce the amount of memorization required of students or workers in a field, since the site can be easily used as a reference.

I know my dad will love this site. Happy early Father's Day, dad!

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