Paper No. 191-9
Presentation Time: 2:30 PM-6:30 PM
PICTURE YOUR FOSSILS ORGANIZED: OPEN-SOURCE TOOLS FOR COMPARING AND MAPPING PHOTOMICROGRAPHS
We present open-source software to organize and integrate paleontological knowledge from photomicrograph metadata. This toolkit, an R package, emphasizes accessibility for data-science novices and continuity for lab team workflows. Advances in microscopy and computed imaging have exacerbated long-recognized challenges in data accessibility. Observations from the rock record are too often orphaned: samples in drawers; slides in boxes; images on hard drives, tallies in spreadsheets. Synthesis of knowledge is lost when people transition between labs, academic positions, or disciplines. We meet this challenge by crafting a flexible metadata framework and providing simple tools to find patterns within the morass of dark data. Our data considerations include; provenance, geological context, and collection attributes, using benchmarked best practices. We seed our project with data from ongoing research in paleontology: vertebrate histology; invertebrate bio-sedimentation; and geology: igneous; diagenesis. We propose an open-source package using the language R to create entry-level tools for researchers to compare photomicrograph observations, map samples based on fossil content, and draft stratigraphic profiles of samples. We showcase how these tools help to synthesize first-order trends in paleontological data:
- We demonstrate within-sample feature tracking with images from vertebrate bone histology slides. The case demonstrates clear intersections with specimen-based research and collections management.
- We map observations of fossilized sea sponges through time and space. Our functions also export data tailored to GIS, google earth, and Macrostrat.
- This project demonstrates the importance of inquiry-focused data tools for research continuity; and value-added from life-experience diversity in collaborative research.