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From Card Catalogs to Computers: Databases in Vertebrate Paleontology Article uri icon


  • Uhen, Mark D., Barnosky, Anthony D., Bills, Brian, Blois, Jessica, Carrano, Matthew T., Carrasco, Marc A., Erickson, Gregory M., Eronen, Jussi T., Fortelius, Mikael, Graham, Russell W., Grimm, Eric C., O'Leary, Maureen A., Mast, Austin, Piel, William H., Polly, P. David and Saila, Laura K.


  • Data, whether images, measurements, counts, occurrences, or character codings, are a cornerstone of vertebrate paleontology. Every published paper, master's thesis, and doctoral dissertation relies on these data to document patterns and processes in evolution, ecology, taphonomy, geography, geologic time, and functional morphology, to name just a few. In turn, the vertebrate paleontology community relies on published data in order to reproduce and verify others' work, as well as to expand upon published analyses in new ways without having to reconstitute data sets that have been used by earlier authors and to accurately preserve data for future generations of researchers. Here, we review several databases that are of interest to vertebrate paleontologists and strongly advocate for more deposition of basic research data in publicly accessible databases by vertebrate paleontologists.

publication date

  • 2013