THE DIGITAL ENCYCLOPEDIA OF ANCIENT LIFE (DEAL): AN OPEN ACCESS PALEONTOLOGY TEXTBOOK
Fossil specimens illustrated in the DEAL largely come from the museum collections of the Paleontological Research Institution (PRI). Recently, we have also begun to use photogrammetry to create interactive, digital 3D models of PRI fossils for the DEAL and to create associated Virtual Teaching Collections (VTC's). The VTC's will be akin to drawers of teaching specimens that are traditionally used in lab courses. While not superior to actual specimens in hand, VTC's will allow students to interact with fossils outside of the classroom and will also allow virtual labs to be added to courses at institutions that lack major fossil collections. To date, over 170 such models have been produced, including representatives of nearly every major group of macroinvertebrates.
The written content of each DEAL chapter has Creative Commons licensing; the same licensing is also applied to 3D models and most DEAL images (almost all of which are newly generated for this project). Creative Commons licensing provides flexibility for instructors to incorporate DEAL content (e.g., text, illustrations, or models) into their own course materials without significant restrictions.