GSA Annual Meeting in Seattle, Washington, USA - 2017

Paper No. 310-4
Presentation Time: 9:00 AM


BUTTS, Susan H., Peabody Museum of Natural History, Yale University, 170 Whitney Avenue, New Haven, CT 06520-8118, KARIM, Talia S., University of Colorado Museum of Natural History, University of Colorado, 265 UCB, Boulder, CO 80309 and NORRIS, Christopher A., Peabody Museum of Natural History, Yale University, 170 Whitney Avenue, P.O. Box 208118, New Haven, CT 06520-8118,

A significant challenge in advancing the use of digital collections is the lack of tools that enable diverse audiences, particularly K-12 students, to use collections for their own exploration and investigation. iDigPaleo is a paleontology-based educational and outreach portal with a simple interface and tools that enable users to interact with digitized collections. Funded under the NSF’s Advancing Digitization of Biological Collections (ADBC) program, the pilot version of iDigPaleo was developed by the Fossil Insect Collaborative (NSF#1305027), a Thematic Collections Network (TCN) charged with digitizing collections from multiple institutions and sharing with researchers via the national hub—iDigBio. The system is being adapted for use by the Cretaceous World TCN (NSF#1601884), PaleoNiches TCN, and the Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument. Understanding biodiversity and the effects of climate change is a fundamental driver of these projects, whether it is the evolutionary response of insects to changing environments or an in-depth consideration of a Cretaceous marine ecosystem in a greenhouse climate.

iDigPaleo allows users to browse digitized specimens using filters, rather than entering specific search terms. The navigation is further simplified by the translation of scientific names to common names harvested from the Encyclopedia of Life. Specimens are displayed as images accompanied by collection and locality data and shown on a map (at the museum-specified resolution). Registered users have a variety of tools, such as annotation, measuring tools, specimen record commenting, and social media sharing. Images can be curated as galleries and used for education, such as exporting as PDFs or PowerPoint, or sharing of galleries between students and teachers. The Cretaceous World TCN will also include a browser-embedded 3D viewer. The functions, layout, and tools of iDigPaleo have undergone critical analyses via discussion with elementary and high school science teachers, testing in undergraduate settings, and through beta-testing and public evaluation by the Peabody EVOLUTIONS program for high school students. When linked with classroom exercises, iDigPaleo provides educators a powerful tool to harness collection records and explore biodiversity and the impacts of past climate change.

  • iDigPaleo GSA 2017.pdf (2.8 MB)