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PteroTerra, searchable pterosaur database web application



Ben Creisler
bcreisler@gmail.com


A new online paper:

Matthew A. McLain, Brad Chase & Eric Bryant (2014)
PteroTerra: a searchable pterosaur database web application that
interfaces with Google Earth.
Historical Biology (advance online publication)
DOI:10.1080/08912963.2014.929671
http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/08912963.2014.929671#.U6hBkPldXTo


Recently, paleontologists have begun using Internet databases and
Google Earth® as new tools to share data with the scientific
community. The newly developed web application PteroTerra
(http://pteroterra.herokuapp.com), implemented using the Ruby on
Rails® web framework, is a specimen-based pterosaur database that
interfaces with Google Earth®. This database currently catalogues over
1300 pterosaur specimens from all over the world and includes
information about each specimen such as taxon name, classification,
geologic age, geographic location of discovery, geologic formation,
rock type, paleoenvironment, articulation, wingspan, proposed diet and
housing institution. The application allows users to search for
specimens based on keywords and to create groups of pterosaurs based
on shared characteristics. Groups can then be downloaded as a.kml
file, which can be automatically uploaded into Google Earth® in order
to study geographic patterns of pterosaur specimens based on any
criteria of interest. The use and continuous updating of PteroTerra
will provide pterosaurologists and other paleontologists with a
central location for storing and obtaining information about
particular pterosaur specimens, as well as a way for researchers to
observe pterosaur patterns on a worldwide scale. The principles behind
this program can easily be expanded to other fields of study.