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Miniature Lives Magnified: Lice of the Open Oceans

Main Project Information
Presented By the Natural History Museum London, on the Zooniverse
Goal To make Museum Collections specimen data fully searchable online
Task Type in the specimen label data of digitally imaged insects
Where Online only

The Museum is on a mission to digitise the 80 million specimens in its collection. We want to make the information the specimens hold about the natural world more openly available to scientists and the public.

Among the thousands of microscope slides we have imaged are the Museum’s parasitic louse slide collection consisting of 70,000+ slides, of which more than 200 are aquatic lice (the Echinophthiriidae) that are part of the sucking lice family (Siphunculata).

Now we need your help to transcribe information from the specimen labels so that the data can be shared openly with the global scientific community on the Museum’s Data Portal.

Lice live on the outside of their bird and mammal hosts. They are highly host specific, with the majority of species being unique to a particular host species, off of which they cannot survive for long. As their evolutionary history is closely related to that of their hosts, parasitic lice are frequently used as a model to study co-evolutionary processes. Co-evolution is the process that occurs when two species influence each other during evolution.

How to Join

Thank-you for your interest in our Miniature Lives Magnified project hosted on the Zooniverse, which features microscopic aquatic sucking lice from our 70,000+ louse collection at the Natural History Museum in London.

You can take part right away by going to 'Miniature Lives Magnified: Lice of the Open Oceans’ on the Zooniverse. ( If you’d like to keep track of your progress please register first, then click on the ‘Learn More’ button to find out more about the project, or the ‘Get Started’ button to be shown the project tutorial.

Don't hesitate to ask us any questions in the TalkForum!

You can find out more about how the Natural History Museum in London is digitising its collections and making them fully available to everyone the world on our Open Data Portal by following us on Twitter ( and reading our blog (

the Digital Collections Programme team

Project Timing A very big thank-you to everyone who took part in this project - you helped us to classify all of the data from the marine louse collection, and we are now processing that data for ingestion into our Collections Management System, and then publication to our Data Portal.
Social Media
Special Skills A computer with internet connection, the ability to type, and the ability to read handwriting
Ideal Age Group Middle school (11 - 13 years), High school (14 - 17 years), College, Graduate students, Adults, Families, Seniors
Ideal Frequency Per week
Average Time Less than an hour
Type of Activity Exclusively online
Training Materials
Tags crowdsourcing, lice, microscope slides, museums, natural history collection, phthiraptera, pinnipeds, specimens, transcription
Project Updated 01/30/2018