The PaleoNet Pages

Useful Online Palaeontology Resources

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The following annotated lists of web sites represents a selected set I and/or my colleagues have found useful over the years. If you want an unfiltered list of sites relevant (in some sense) to a particular topic and assembled by a mindless algorithm, go to Google, Yahoo, Ask, etc. If you want to access and use the sites other professional palaeontologists use, look here.

🔵 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 programmes, or want to know who’s teaching palaeontology where in North America, this is where you start.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Geoscience e-Journals - A list of peer-reviewed electronic journals dedicated to open access publishing in the field of Earth Sciences (geochemistry, geophysics, paleontology, regional geology, stratigraphy, geography, etc.)

🔵 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.
  • 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.
  • Ocean Drilling Program Legacy - Access to all information collected and published by the Deep Sea Drilling Project (DSDP) and Ocean Drilling Project (ODP).
  • Foraminifera Database - Database provided by the Project to foster research and educational interest in foraminifera.
  • Radiolaria Database - A searchable online catalogue of fossil and recent radiolarian species maintained by
  • 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.
  • Fossil Record 2 Database - A near-complete listing of the diversity of life through time, compiled at the level of the taxonomic family. Maintained by Michael benton and the University of Bristol, Bristol, UK.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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).

🔵 Infrastructure for Paleontological Data Analyses

  • Morphometrics at SUNY Stony Brook - The premier web site for support of morphometrics. Information available (and maintained) about meetings, software, hardware, data, references, people, etc.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
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).
  • 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.
  • TINA - An open source environment developed to accelerate the process of image analysis research. TINA provides functionality to assist in all areas of image analysis including handling of image, image feature and geometrical data; statistical and numerical analysis of data; GUI development as well as transmission and containment of data. TINA also provides a range of high-level analysis techniques for both machine vision (3D object location, 2D object recognition, temporal-stereo depth estimation, etc.) and medical image analysis (MR tissue segmentation, blood flow analysis, etc).
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.
  • eco-Tools - A web-accessible means of performing commonly-needed and useful calculations in ecology and conservation biology. No special software is required, and all algorithms are transparent and based on standard references.

Phylogenetic Data Analysis
  • Phylogeny Programs - A very complete list of software packages available for various types of phylogenetic analysis. Created and maintained by Joe Felsenstein at the University of Washington.

🔵 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)

Online Monographs

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

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The PaleoNet Pages were created by Norman MacLeod as part of the PaleoNet communications system. Sponsorship of The Palaeontological Association is gratefully acknowledged. The PaleoNet Pages are maintained by Norman MacLeod with contributions from the extended PaleoNet Community. Anyone wishing to post an item, establish a link, contribute artwork, etc. to these pages should contact Norm.

Home page image: Detail of Hynerpeton basset by Janice McCafferty.