Paper No. 1
Presentation Time: 9:00 AM-6:30 PM
ESTABLISHING A DIGITAL DATABASE FOR INVERTEBRATE PALEONTOLOGY AT THE AMERICAN MUSEUM OF NATURAL HISTORY
Here we present an overview of the development of the invertebrate paleontology database at the American Museum of Natural History (AMNH). The goal is to keep primary specimen data current and available to users by developing a searchable database with structured and formatted information gathered mainly from publications which contain AMNH specimens and are referred to by “FI” numbers. Other sources include catalog cards, ledgers, field locality cards, notes, and the specimens themselves. Challenges in the development of a prototype model include the assembly of step-by-step guidelines for a specific task and outlining an overall schema for an online database. Step-by-step methodologies were developed for data acquisition, processing, and establishing workflow. One important insight is the significance of creating data definitions that conform to standardized terminologies. Other criteria are quality control, long-term data preservation and storage, documentation of problems encountered and their resolution, and articulating plans for future development. Contextual knowledge is vital during migration of data from a simple flat file database to a complex relational database. The end result is a database that allows acquired information to be presented in a useful format, ultimately helping set up an infrastructure to be shared by the paleontological community (NASA grant NAG5-12333). In addition, work is underway to curate and rehabilitate our microfossil collection, which is at risk of data dissociation and specimen loss. Digitization of this collection includes digital imaging of 1000 primary types and CT scanning of 50 primary types using an NSF funded CT-scanner facility at AMNH. The microfossil project (NSF award 1203394) will support and train undergraduate student interns in modern curatorial practices.