The Paleobiology Database is a public resource for the global scientific community. It 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 marine and terrestrial animals and plants of any geological age, as well as web-based software for statistical analysis of the data. The project's wider, long-term goal is to encourage collaborative efforts to answer large-scale paleobiological questions by developing a useful database infrastructure and bringing together large data sets.
We maintain full descriptions of each of our Online Systematics Archives. You can also see what we know about the taxonomy of a group by generating a classification. It's easy to tell what collection and occurrence data are in the Database by generating data summary tables. For example, you can get counts of fossil collections within geological periods, or by continent.
The Database currently includes nine main tables: published references, taxonomic names, taxonomic synonymies and classifications, primary collection data, taxonomic occurrences, reidentifications of occurrences, and three tables describing geological time scales. Additional scientific tables track ecological and taphonomic attributes of higher taxa and species, measurements of specimens, and data about the digital fossil images on the site. There are also a number of bookkeeping tables. The tables are tied together relationally with record ID numbers. At a later date we may add tables to handle phylogenetic relationships, ecomorphological attributes, stratigraphic sections, radioisotopic age estimates, and other data.
September 13, 2010