GB/3D Fossil Types online’: Database of type specimens of British fossil species
The International Code on Zoological Nomenclature and the International Code of Nomenclature for algae, fungi and plants require that every species or subspecies of organism, whether living or fossil, should have a type or reference specimen to define its characteristic features. These specimens are held in museums and collections around the world and must be available for study. Many of the UK fossil species were defined over a century ago, and with time, the type specimens may have deteriorated or been lost, causing major problems. The project aims to develop a single database of the type specimens held in British collections, of fossils found in the UK, including links to photographs (including “anaglyph” stereo pairs) and a selection of 3D digital models.
The British Geological Survey, partnered by National Museum Cardiff, the Sedgwick Museum of Earth Sciences (Cambridge University), the Oxford University Museum of Natural History, and the Geological Curators’ Group will develop a collaborative database of British type specimens. It will build on existing databases, exploring the use of schemas such as ABCDEFG and dictionaries such as the Lexicon and the Rock Classification Scheme (RCS) for the transmission and sharing of data. The Geological Curators’ Group will extend the partnership to local museums and other organisations holding type fossils.
The results will be made available through a single searchable web database, badged with the logos of participating organisations. It will include links to view or download high quality images, stereo pairs (anaglyphs) and digital models. Images will generally be in JPEG2000 format, and digital models as .PLY and 3Dpdf formats. It will also include the ability to store and download other data types, as diverse as X-ray images, and links to or scans of original papers.
Project partners will utilise their own staff, with assistance from BGS as required. Systems will be developed to export from the partner databases to an extended version of the BGS PalaeoSaurus database. Smaller partners will use an online data entry and upload application, with a QC check before importation. The project will also develop an automated harvesting system to promote future sustainability.