Fossil Database (Unit 6) - How to Search for Museum Specimens

Searching for Museum Specimens
Image illustrating the Fossil Database search fields

Museum Field

The Fossil Database contains images of fossil specimens from several institutions. You can use this field to narrow your search to a particular museum's collections.

Type Status Field

This field allows you to search for type specimens, e.g. holotypes. Type specimens are the original specimens on which taxonomic descriptions (and names) are based.

Higher Taxon Field

This field is useful when you want to search for only one particular type of organism, such as arachnids, fish, or angiosperms.

Genus and Species Field

These are some of the fields you'll use during this exercise. They are useful when you are looking for a particular genus or species.

Publication Reference Field

This field can be used when looking for the author of a specific article on a particular fossil. You will also use this field during the exercise.

Publication Status Field - types of publication status fields you can search for, including intermediate, most recent, original, orginal and most recent, and finally unpublished.

Publication Status Field

If a specimen has been dealt with in multiple publications (often under different taxonomic assignments), the database will include multiple records. Publication Status indicates the sequence in which a specimen was published. Original indicates that the record shows the first publication in which the specimen was cited. Most Recent indicates that the record shows the most recently published taxonomic assignment for the specimen. Intermediate indicates that the record shows a published treatment of the specimen between its original and most recent publications. A record is indicated as Original and Most Recent if the original published citation of the specimen also remains the most recent one.

Catalog Number Field

Each university assigns a catalog number to their fossil specimens. This field is usually used by researchers looking for a specific specimen number listed in publications. You will also use this field for the exercise.

Now, open the Fossil Database in a new window and begin the exercise.

Last updated: February 24, 2015

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