The PaleoNet Pages

A communications system for paleontologists.

Useful Online Paleontology Resources

🔵 Directories

  • Geoscience Departments (US & Canada) - The most comprehensive list of links to the websites of US and Canadian geoscience departments available. If you’re looking for information about specific academic geoscience programs, or want to know who’s teaching palaeontology where in North America, this is where you start. Created and maintained by Timothy Heaton.

  • Worldwide Geological Surveys - A fairly comprehensive list of links to the web sites of geological surveys (and similar organizations). Both international and US state surveys are included. Created and maintained by

  • Geological Societies - A list of links to the web sites of professional geological societies and organizations. If your society or association isn’t listed here you might consider contacted with a request to be added. It’s in all our interests to have a comprehensive list of these organizations available. Created and maintained by Wikipedia.

🔵 Paleontological Databases

  • The Geobiodiversity Database - An integrated system for the management and analysis of stratigraphic and paleontological information, started in 2006 and available online from 2007. The GBDBs goal is to facilitate regional and global scientific collaborations focused on regional and global correlation, quantitative stratigraphy, systematics, biodiversity dynamics, paleogeography, and paleoecology. This database is unique among global, public-access databases in that it is a section-based online database system, incorporating data from a wide range of disciplines of stratigraphy and paleontology, with inherent interrelationship between different kinds of data sets. Several Windows-based visualization and analysis applications, either fully integrated with the database or supported by subset-export functions, have been developed to make the database more useful as a scientific and educational tool. Created and maintained by the Nanjing Institute of Paleontology & Stratigraphy.

  • The Paleobiology Database - A non-governmental, non-profit public resource for paleontological data. The PBDB has been organized and operated by a multi-disciplinary, multi-institutional, international group of paleobiological researchers. Its purpose is to provide global, collection-based occurrence and taxonomic data for organisms of all geological ages, as well data services to allow easy access to data for independent development of analytical tools, visualization software, and applications of all types. The Database’s broader goal is to encourage and enable data-driven collaborative efforts that address large-scale paleobiological questions. Created and maintained by Shanan Peters.

  • Sepkoski's Online Genus Database - A direct port of the data published in the Sepkoski 2002 monograph. This database was created to facilitate easy searching, and the downloading search results, on the basis of Evolutionary Fauna, Phylum, or Class. Customized lists of genera and their stratigraphic ranges (according to Sepkoski), as well as summaries of genus richness and taxonomic rates of evolution, are available. Created and maintained by Shanan Peters.

  • Digital Atlas of Ancient Life - A collection on interactive 3D models of fossil specimens drawn from the collections of the Paleontological Research Institution (PRI). These are part of an ongoing PRI specimen digitization project. All models are public domain and may be downloaded, used, and even 3D printed free-of-charge. Created and maintained by the Paleontological Research Institution.

  • Ocean Drilling Program Legacy - Access to all information collected and published by the Deep Sea Drilling Project (DSDP) and Ocean Drilling Project (ODP).

  • Neogene Marine Biota of Tropical America - Contains images and information on taxa collected as part of two large multi-taxa fossil sampling programs: (1) the Panama Paleontology Project (PPP) coordinated by the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama; (2) the Neogene Paleontology of the northern Dominican Republic (DR) project coordinated by the Natural History Museum in Basel, Switzerland. NMITA is designed for use in research and education in systematics and evolutionary paleontology. Partial information is currently available for bryozoans, corals (zooxanthellate and azooxanthellate), molluscs (gastropods and bivalves), ostracodes, and fish. Created and maintained by the University of Iowa Dept. of Earth and Environmental Sciences.

  • Tree of Life Project (ToL) - A collection of information about biodiversity compiled collaboratively by hundreds of expert and amateur contributors. Its goal is to contain a page with pictures, text, and other information for every species and for each group of organisms, living or extinct. Created and maintained by the ToL Home Team.

  • Encyclopedia of Life (EoL) - Information and images that aspires to include all species known to science designed to increase awareness and understanding of living nature in an open, freely accessible and trusted digital resource. Created and maintained by the EoL Secretariat.

  • Species 2000 - An autonomous federation of taxonomic database custodians, involving taxonomists throughout the world whose goal is to collate a uniform and validated index to the world's known species (plants, animals, fungi and microbes). Created and maintained by the Species 2000 Secretariat.

  • Ancient Earth Globe - a very well done 3D simulation of earth paleogeography from 750 ma to Recent. Ocean basins, continental platforms, land areas and mountain ranges are rendered on a rotating globe whose orientation position can be altered interactively. Clouds and associated weather patterns have even been thrown in for good measure! More a teaching than a research tool, but quite striking all the same. Created and maintained by

🔵 Infrastructure for Paleontological Data Analysis


  • Morpho-tools - A web-accessible means of performing common geometric morphometric analysis on their data, online. No special software is required, and all algorithms are transparent and based on standard references. Created and maintained by Jon Kreiger.

  • MorphoJ - An integrated program package for doing geometric morphometrics. The goal of the program is to provide a platform for the most important types of analyses in geometric morphometrics in a user-friendly package. Created and maintained by Chris Klingerberg.

  • Geomorph - A program system to read, manipulate, and digitize landmark data, generate shape variables via Procrustes analysis for points, curves and surfaces, perform shape analyses, and provide graphical depictions of shapes and patterns of shape variation. Created and maintained by Dean Adams.

Image Analysis
  • NIH Image - An image processing and analysis program for the Macintosh. It was developed at the Research Services Branch (RSB) of the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), part of the US National Institutes of Health (NIH). Created and maintained by Wayne Rasband.

  • ImageJ - A Java-based image processing program inspired by NIH Image for the Macintosh. It runs, either as an online applet or as a downloadable application, on any computer with a Java 1.4 or later virtual machine. ImageJ can display, edit, analyze, process, save and print 8-bit, 16-bit and 32-bit images, read many image formats (incl. TIFF, GIF, JPEG, BMP, DICOM, FITS and "raw") and supports "stacks", a series of images that share a single window. Created and maintained by Wayne Rasband.

General Quantitative Data Analysis
  • PAST - Software for scientific data analysis, with functions for data manipulation, plotting, univariate and multivariate statistics, ecological analysis, time series and spatial analysis, morphometrics and stratigraphy. Created and maintained by Oyvind Hammer.

Paleoecological Data Analysis
  • Roopnarine's Food Weblog - A very nicely done series of extended essays, broadly on the subject of "systems paleoecology", that actually focuses (mostly) on the mathematical concepts and data-analysis methods used routinely to support research in this field along with results of some of the author's work, written by a world-class practitioner and all done in form of a "blog". Created and maintained by Peter Roopnarine.

Phylogenetic Data Analysis

🔵 Online Publications

PaleoNet Forum
The PaleoNet Forum was an initial attempt at developing a more formal, on-line, technical communication venue for paleontologists. The Forum ran the articles listed below from 1995 through 1996. After that, its concept was expanded and developed further into the first true on-line paleontological journal, Palaeontologia Electronica (PE, see PaleoNet Index Page). If you look closely at the author list you’ll find the names of several of the original PE editors.

Paleontology in the 21st Century
Proceedings of a 1997 Senckenburg Workshop conference that reviewed the state of, and opportunities for, palaeontology on the cusp of the new millennium

Essay Series
  • PalaeoMath 101 by Norman MacLeod - This column, which ran in the Palaeontological Association Newsletter from 2004 to 2013, explored aspects of quantitative analysis in paleontological contexts with an emphasis on practicality, understanding of the issues involved in planning a data analysis strategy, and the implications of making choices between available data-analysis techniques. Each essay was written for the novice data analyst, especially those who always wanted to gain knowledge of this subject, but never had the opportunity to do so and haven't managed to make much progress through self-education. In addition, use of the methods discussed was illustrated via MS-Excel spreadsheets containing the various formulas and procedures in the form of worked examples. All calculations performed in the columns are given (or summarized) in the associated spreadsheet as an encouragement to the reader to explore use of these methods on their own data.

Paleontology/Evolution Classics

🔵 Courses and Course Resources

These links provide access to lecture slides, laboratory exercises and exam questions for special topics courses that are being (or have been) delivered by paleontologists.

  • Extinctions - Extinction is a natural process that has existed for literally billions of years. Not only is extinction predicted by evolutionary theory, as a process extinction plays a key role in biological diversification. What is the history of extinction? When and why did major extinction events happen in the Earth’s past? What can the study of extinction reveal about how our planet achieved its current physical, climatic and biological state? And how can past extinctions guide us in formulating a pragmatic response to our contemporary climate- change situation? These, along with many other aspects of the fascinating topic of extinction, serve as the focus of this course which will equip students to think critically about this topic and its relation to many pressing contemporary issues (e.g., climate change, conservation, economic development, pollution). Created and delivered at Nanjing University by Norman MacLeod.

  • Statistics and Data Analysis in the Earth Sciences - Use of statistics and data-analysis methods is a practical necessity for conducting investigations into virtually any aspect of earth science. As a consequence, instruction in the methods and procedures used most often by earth scientists needs to be provided to students who aspire to careers in this field. In the past this training has often been organized on an ad hoc or “as needed” basis, usually in conjunction with a specific research project, and usually focused only on the procedures employed in that project. This approach is no longer suitable for the training of undergraduate earth science students insofar as it usually (1) fails to provide adequate grounding in the wide range of procedures and methods available to earth scientists, (2) provides inadequate coverage of the particular application histories, assumptions, strengths and weaknesses inherent in the use of these procedures, and/or (3) neglects to provide focused instruction on the manner in which the results of such applications can be predicted from, and tied back to, the earth science hypotheses under evaluation.

    This course addresses these needs and concerns by drawing on the instructor’s 30+ years of using, developing, promoting, writing about and teaching the skill – and the art – of data analysis in earth science contexts. Offering a trifecta that includes a survey of data-analysis theory, non-mathematical descriptions of how various procedures interact with, and reveal, patterns in datasets, and practical experience with the application of selected procedures to various earth science data-analysis problems, this course will take students with limited backgrounds in mathematics and train them to be confident practitioners of quantitative data analysis. Students who work through the course materials diligently and complete the instructional program successfully will be well positioned to select appropriate data-analysis strategies for a wide range of earth science problems, design and carry out their own descriptive and exploratory analyses, and interpret the results of those analyses with confidence. More importantly though, they will understand the power of these methods to make patterns in earth science data that are invisible to the naked eye and/or causal inspector, visible and in so doing to enable the realization of investigations that would be impossible to deliver objectively in any other manner.
    Created and delivered at Nanjing University by Norman MacLeod.

  • Scientific Writing - During the summer of 2020 Norman MacLeod and Dr. Jacquie Drake co-taught an intensive three-phase short course in scientific writing online, under the auspices of Nanjing University's Deep-time Digital Earth (DDE) program, to a class of over 100 undergraduate and graduate earth science students from across China. The course was given entirely in English and focused on the skills, processes, conventions, and technologies used in writing, proofreading/polishing, submitting and publishing a peer-reviewed scientific article in a western earth science journal. The resources included in this archive are Norm's lecture slides.

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Sponsorship of The Palaeontological Association is gratefully acknowledged with special thanks to Alan R. T. Spencer and Jo Hellawell.