Dear Scientists and Data Administrators,

Most raw materials of paleontological science are scattered in museums and collections worldwide. Only experts know the whereabouts of specific forms by their own experience or by public monographs.

Paleontologist should be interested in sharing their knowledge due to at least three good reasons:

  • Commercial Effect:
    The increased presence of fossils in the internet and the improved opportunity to receive information by the use of online collections will enhance public awareness of paleontological research results, ensuring or creating further tax funds and financial support.

  • Systematic Research:
    Online data collections can help to prevent paleontologists from spending vast amounts of time desperately searching for adequate proof material.

  • Big Science:
    Key questions such as the evolution of biodiversity over space and time can be more rigorously addressed than ever before. Initiatives such as the Paleobiology Database solely consider published data, whereby much important information is neglected. About 15 million pieces of paleontological collection material are stored in German museums alone.

Biologists have successfully established GBIF (Global Biodiversity Information Facility), an internet platform, which does not only include collection data, but also observation data. Data output by GBIF is stored in the portal itself and is therefore secure from unapproved third party distribution. This is achieved by the ABCD standard used to read collection data and bypass technical problems which would else be invoked by different structures of individual databases.

An official request from GBIF prompts us to merge paleontological data in a similar process. GBIF produced a well-working product, which is the basis for the ABCDEFG Standard extending the biological ABCD standard for the use of paleontological collections. Funded by the European Union the development of this standard was achieved in the SYNTHESYS”-Project. It is in the focus of SYNTHESYS II to associate larger amounts of collection data with the existing database content.

We ask all scientists and administrators in charge of database responsibility to join up with the initiative of SYNTHESYS II.