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Complete fossil record...

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Hey all,


I am considering putting together a web based project which will list all the fossils we have currently discovered in the order they appear on the evolutionary tree of life.


Anyone have any ideas where I could start gathering this information (pictures)? Is there such a project already?


Any help would be greatly appreciated.



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Well this is an admirable goal, but I respectfully suggest that, unless you intend to devote half your life to it, it is an impractical one. Consider these numbers:


Phylum brachiopoda –30,000 species

Phylum bryozoa – 15,000 species

Phylum chordata – ??, but around 10,000 vertebrates

Phylum echinodermata – 40,000 species

Phylum mollusca –35,000 species


I make that 130,000 species. And I haven’t considered the archaeothyacida, porifera, tardigrada, cnidaria, or even the arthropoda, which account for 75% of living species and were just as prolific in the past. Nor have I counted in any plants or prokaryotes.


I have read that the total number of catalogued fossil species is around 250,000. Assuming it takes you thirty minutes to process each species, that translates into forty years, even if you work a sixty hour per week.


You may want to take a look at this site to grasp the magnitude of the task you are considering.


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Thank you for enlightening me on the scope of this idea. I always thought it would be an enormous task. However, I do not plan to venture into this alone. Besides organizing a team of peers, the website could be interactive. There would be rules and a verification system in place to ensure all participants know what they are doing. It will/would be an enormous project. I will still have to brainstorm and put everything on paper, to see if this realistic or not.



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Conceived as a long term project, with a large team of individuals, perhaps constructed along the lines of wikipedia, it does become marginally more feasible.

This is probably a hugely out of date as a source, but in the 1960s a printed version of such a concept was produced globally under the auspices of the Geological Society of America (?). Called the Treatise of Invertebrate Palaeontology its aim was to cover the taxonomy, morphology, habitat, etc of all known Invertebrate fossils. This was, as you would imagine a multi-volume set. You should readily find copies in any University library, though it may well have been superceded.

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