Tired of seeing duck faces and pouts on social media? Here’s a new collection of pictures for you featuring monkey faces, zebra portraits and vulture close-ups.
Alexandra Swanson took on the mission of placing 225 cameras throughout the lush savannahs of Serengeti in 2010. The cameras have infrared motion sensors that snap a picture every time an animal passes in front of them.
Three years later, Swanson and her team retrieved the photographs collected from the 225 cameras, which provided a staggering 1.2 million snaps. Swanson wanted to understand how carnivores coexist in the savannahs of Serengeti and with such a large number of pictures, the researchers have plenty of data to comb through.
However, before they got any further, Swanson and her team needed the help of nature lovers from around the world to help analyze the images.
In collaboration with Zooniverse, the website recruited more than 28,000 volunteers from 70 countries around the world. Putting their love for all things furry and cute to use, 15 people looked at each image on average and helped categorize the photos.
For those who weren’t so sure about what they were looking at: “We also have a ‘looks like’ filter. If, say, the person has no idea what it is but thinks it looks like an antelope, they can filter the list to what looks like an antelope,” explained Margaret Kosmala, Swanson’s associate.
The journey wasn’t without problems as Kosmala shares that the almost 15% of the cameras were changed yearly. Insects damaged some cameras the most, but the adventurous hyenas and elephants really had fun. “The last pictures on the camera would be an elephant trunk or the inside of the mouth of a hyena,” she says.