GSA Annual Meeting in Phoenix, Arizona, USA - 2019

Paper No. 157-14
Presentation Time: 11:15 AM


BUTTS, Susan H., NORRIS, Christopher A. and MARTIN, Elissa, Yale University, Peabody Museum of Natural History, 170 Whitney Avenue, New Haven, CT 06520-8118

As a participant in the Cretaceous World TCN (NSF Award #DBI-1601884), the Yale Peabody Museum (YPM) is digitizing invertebrate, vertebrate, and microfossil collections from the Western Interior Seaway, including iconic fossils like Archelon, Hesperornis, Xiphactinus and the Karl O. Waage invertebrate collection. The Western Interior Seaway (WIS) was a shallow sea that covered the western United States in the Late Cretaceous during a greenhouse climate. The goal of the project is to completely digitize our collection and make it available for researchers via iDigBio and GBIF. These data will allow scientists to answer fundamental questions about this changing ecosystem, which are relevant to the modern challenges of our changing climate.

Over three years, we have digitized over 92,000 specimens. Most are georeferenced with multiple images. To achieve this, we developed high throughput digitization protocols using Inselect (Natural History Museum, London). Inselect, available on GitHub, was developed for digitization of pinned insects. We have modified the protocols to digitize concretions, microfossil slides, and specimen lots. This project builds on the successes of the iDigPaleo data aggregator, funded by the Fossil Insect Collaborative (FIC) TCN ( The data model and front-end of iDigPaleo was used off the shelf for the Cretaceous World site, which hosts the aggregated educational portal Cretaceous World ( Both the FIC and Cretaceous World TCNs are in the process of ingesting data directly from iDigBio, which includes data from our partners: YPM, University of Colorado, American Museum of Natural History, the University of Kansas, the Los Angeles County Museum of Natural History (submitted PEN), Oklahoma Sam Noble Museum, Fort Hays-Sternberg Museum, South Dakota School of Mines and Tech, University of Texas at Austin, the Paleontological Research Institute, and the US National Museum of Natural History. We have produced 3D scans of 48 YPM specimens, archived (project name Western Interior Seaway). Eleven undergraduate students have been trained in specimen digitization techniques. Four high school students, participants in “EVOlutions” the Yale Peabody Museum afterschool program, interned on the Cretaceous World TCN.