THE ROLE OF PALEOGEOGRAPHIC DATA SERVICES IN IMPROVING PALEOBIOLOGICAL EDUCATION AND RESEARCH
Some elements of this project had to be limited to the conterminous United States, with the assumption that the relative geographic positions of all type localities has been constant through geological time (this assumption is of course violated in the Appalachian and Cordillera). A paleogeographic data service, dynamically maintained by experts in the field of paleogeographic reconstruction, that is capable of rotating present-day coordinates to their proper paleogeographic position allows researchers to take full advantage existing geoscience knowledge and to test biological hypotheses more rigorously.
Although the immediate motivation for collecting data and using data services was for a research-based high school internship program, the data made a large and important contribution to the research program within the Paleobiology Lab at Stanford. Furthermore, integrating paleocoordinates into lithological datasets, such as Macrostrat (http://macrostrat.org), will open up the possibility of rapidly and rigorously constructing lithologically and biologically constrained paleoenvironmental/paleoclimate maps as well as using lithological and paleontological data to refine and ground-truth paleogeographic reconstructions.