Paper No. 239-10
Presentation Time: 4:00 PM
DIGITAL FOSSILS: THERE’S AN APP FOR THAT
The Digital Atlas of Ancient Life is a website that provides images, taxonomic, stratigraphic, and geographical distribution data, as well as descriptions of marine invertebrate fossils from 3 distinct time periods and geographic regions: the Ordovician of the Cincinnati region; the Pennsylvanian of the mid-continent; and the Neogene of the southeastern United States. It was developed as part of the PALEONICHES Thematic Collections Network (TCN) for use by avocational and professional paleontologists as well as K-12 students. Information can be accessed for > 800 species and the higher taxa they are nested within. We used Roger Tory Peterson’s field guides as a model, with the goal of providing accurate temporal, morphological, and geographic information about the fossils people might find in their literal and metaphorical backyards. Since inception, the atlas and its associated sites have received > 130,000 visits. The fact that the atlas is tethered to the internet means, however, that it cannot be used without a continuous internet connection or, in the case of a smart phone, outside of cell service: a problem for those out in the field. To liberate the atlas from these constraints, we developed a portable device app “The Digital Atlas of Ancient Life App” that provides the content and data from the website on a hand held device. We describe the design, functionality and uses of the App. It is specifically intended for the Apple iPad (there is another version for the iPhone because of their different image capabilities and screen sizes) with a taxon based or time based means of navigation, a browse feature, a breadcrumb trail, a hierarchically nested taxonomy, images, and live maps. It can be obtained for free on the Apple App Store. The data and images that form the core of the Digital Atlas Website and App were collected via our TCN, so as data are added updates to the App can be made. We also discuss new outreach capabilities we intend to build for future versions of the App.