What You See When You Turn a Fish Inside Out
Smithsonian scientists use X-rays to classify different species, but when viewed outside the lab, the images provide stunning art
- By Megan Gambino
- Smithsonian.com, February 07, 2012
The scientific name of the ox-eyed oreo is Oreosoma atlanticum. Oreosoma, meaning "mountain body," refers to the peaks protruding from the fish's underbelly. (Sandra J. Raredon, Division of Fishes, NMNH)
Most of the 6.2 million specimens in the collection, including adult fish, juveniles, larvae and eggs, are stored in jars of ethanol. They fill six massive rooms at the Smithsonian’s Museum Support Center in Suitland, Maryland. The “fish library” contains representatives of about 75 percent of the more than 32,000 known fish species. The oldest specimens were collected in the mid-1800s, and scientists add thousands more each year, knowing that they will be preserved and shared with the scientific community.