Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History

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Carboniferous

 

The Locality Data Fields

 

The fossil locality is the fundamental record of the ETE Database. The Explorer displays localities on its maps, and searches for information only about them -- there is no way to pull up the biological data for a particular species from the graphics display except as part of a species list for a specific locality.[1]* This is in keeping with the basic approach of the ETE Consortium. It is through investigation and characterization of individual localities that one can construct characterizations of fossil communities and ecosystems.
The locality entity contains basic information about the location, age, stratigraphy, lithology, sedimentary environment, and taphonomy of the locality. In addition, it records interpretations of the physical environment and biological environments that are relevant to organismal ecology (the reconstructed "eco-environment," for lack of a better term, as opposed to the sedimentary environment). This includes climatic information, such as temperature, seasonality, and availability of water, as well as inferences about the vegetation. Of course, the locality record also includes the standard information about the source of the data, references associated with the locality, and the authorization for its entry into the data-base.

In addition to the locality fields, each locality record may have associated with it upon data entry a Species List, a Museum List, a Collecting Methods List, a Synonyms List, and a Sedimentary Structures and Taphonomic Detail List. None are mandatory, but of course it is ultimately pointless to have a locality in the database without a species list. See the chapter on these lists for details of formatting and allowed values.

Required fields for a locality consist of:

Locality Type loc.type
Basis for Age (maximum) loc.bfa_max
Basis for Age (minimum) loc.bfa_min
Data Coordinator lau.coordinator
Data Authorizer lau.authorizer
Dating Method loc.date_meth
Latitude loc.dec_lat
Longitude loc.dec_long
Maximum Age loc.max_age
Minimum Age loc.min_age

In addition, each locality requires at least one reference (which requires the fields ref.author_1 and ref.date). See Reference Data Fields.


It is recommended that localities also have at least a Locality Name (loc.name), Country (loc.country), Formation (loc.formation), and an Approximate Number of Specimens (loc.appr_num_spm), but these fields are not mandatory.

Abrasion

Degree of abrasion observed on fossil remains.

DATA TYPE

A predefined character string not exceeding 9 characters in length.

DESCRIPTION

The degree of abrasion observed on the fossil remains at the locality -- unabraded, mixed (some abraded, some not), abraded.

INTERNAL TABLE.FIELD NAMES

loc.trans_mod

ALLOWED VALUES

abraded
mixed_abr
unabraded

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Age Comment

A comment field for the age assignment.

DATA TYPE

A character field not exceeding 120 characters.

DESCRIPTION

A field for a comment on the age assignment of the locality, including information relevant to the Dating Method, Bfa, Frac, and Chronostratigraphic Age fields.

INTERNAL TABLE.FIELD NAMES

loc.age_comm

ALLOWED VALUES

Any

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Agent(s) of Disturbance

Natural agents of vegetation disturbance.

DATA TYPE

A predefined character string not exceeding 16 characters.

DESCRIPTION

The natural agents of major and recurring vegetational disturbance in the ecosystem. These are limited to water, fire, and wind. They can be specified in all combinations of the three terms, as below.

INTERNAL TABLE.FIELD NAMES

loc.disturb

ALLOWED VALUES

fire
fire-wind
water
water-fire
water-wind
water-fire-wind
wind

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Approximate Number of Specimens

The approximate number of collected specimens from the locality.

DATA TYPE

Integer.

DESCRIPTION

The approximate number of specimens collected from the locality and upon which the inferences in this database are based. This value will seldom be known with any precision, especially for older or extensively collected localities. The idea is to have at least a rough value for every locality, to help assess the reliability of paleobiological inferences and to get an idea about the effects of sampling. See Exact Number of Specimens.

INTERNAL TABLE.FIELD NAMES

loc.appr_num_spm

ALLOWED VALUES

Any

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Assemblage Component Size

The predominant size-category of the organisms found as fossils.

DATA TYPE

A predefined character string not exceeding 5 characters.

DESCRIPTION

A fancy name for a simple field. All that is wanted is whether the locality yields primarily microfossils, macrofossils, or a relatively even mixture of both. This information could be derived from the size data for the species in the species list, but it would be tedious to do so.

INTERNAL TABLE.FIELD NAMES

loc.size_type

ALLOWED VALUES

both
macro
micro

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Assemblage Formation

The mode of formation of the fossil assemblage.

DATA TYPE

A predefined character string not exceeding 12 characters in length.

DESCRIPTION

The basic mode of formation of the fossil assemblage, derived from diverse taphonomic and sedimentological evidence. Attritional, mass death, and isolated death would refer to assemblages of either animals or plants. In addition, bones can accumulate either through the actions of bone collecting vertebrates or as the remnants of carnivore meals (ingestion), e.g., owl pellets, scat accumulations ("coprocoenoses" such as many, if not most, microvertebrate assemblages). Herbivore accumulations are included for completeness, referring, for example, to plant remains accumulated or cached as food but never eaten. Herbivore ingestion indicates preserved gut contents or coprolites.

INTERNAL TABLE.FIELD NAMES

loc.assem_fm

ALLOWED VALUES
attritional
bone_collctr
carn_ingest
herb_accum
herb_ingestion
isol_death
mass_death

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Basis for Age -- MaxBFA, MinBFA

The specific basis for an age assignment.

DATA TYPE

A character string not exceeding 25 characters. MANDATORY FIELD.

DESCRIPTION

There are two ways of assigning age to localities in the database (see also Locality Ages in the Overview). Localities may be assigned either an absolute or a non-absolute (i.e., time_unit, geochronologic unit) age. This is done by the choice of entries for the Basis for Age fields, MaxBFA (for maximum age) and MinBFA (for minimum age). If one of the "absolute" terms listed below is given for this field, you must also specify a minimum and maximum age in millions of years before present (Ma), to be entered in the appropriate fields (see Minimum Age and Maximum Age). If a non-absolute term is given in a Bfa field (such as a unit of geological time or other chronological unit--e.g., "Triassic," "Bridger B," "Stephanian," or "Holocene"), you cannot directly specify maximum or minimum ages. Rather, the term given must match (exactly) one of the terms in an ancillary table of the database, known as the time_unit table. There, all chronological units are listed with their currently accepted minimum and maximum ages, and the computer automatically will supply these ages to the locality when it is entered. The rationale behind this is twofold. First, it prevents workers who may be using different time scales from providing discordant ages for localities at the same horizon. No time scale is completely satisfactory, but we want to be as consistent as possible across all of our localities. Second, such a system allows the Basis for Age fields to function as a record of what time unit was used to provide an age for this locality. Then, if the agreed-upon numerical ages for this interval of time change as a result of future research, it is a simple matter of changing the values for the time-unit in the time_unit table, and updating the values of all localities whose ages are based upon that time unit.


Workers should remain aware of the units that are in the time_unit table, and the necessity for adding terms and changing age ranges. Since each term is listed independently of others, overlapping and non-standard terms are perfectly acceptable for inclusion. Different portions of the specified time unit (equivalent, for example, to "Late Paleocene" or "mid-Maestrichtian") can be specified by the simultaneous use of the Fraction of Age fields.

Which Bfa fields are to be filled, and what kinds of data they are to be filled with, depend upon the entry in the Dating Method field (which see). An entry of "absolute" in this field requires both Bfa fields to be filled with a valid absolute dating method. A value of "time_unit" indicates the locality is dated on the basis of a single time-unit, and only MaxBFA need be filled (MinBFA is automatically the same -- this saves keystrokes). A value of "composite" in the Dating Method field allows the Bfa's to be filled either with time-units (which can be different for maximum and minimum ages) or absolute dating methods, with automatic or user-supplied entries in the minimum and maximum age fields, as appropriate.

INTERNAL TABLE.FIELD NAMES

loc.bfa_max, loc.bfa_min

ALLOWED VALUES

"absolute age values"

Value
Explanation
AAR
amino-acid raceminzation
absolute
Ar/Ar
C14
chemical
culture
Delta_O18
ESR
electron-spin resonance
fission-Track
K/Ar
obsidian_hyd
obsidian hydration
radiometric
Rb/Sr
Sr/Sr
TL
thermoluminescence
tree_ring
U-series
U/Th


"non-absolute age values"

(Any value found in the time_unit table)

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Bed

Name of stratigraphic bed (if applicable).

DATA TYPE

A character string not exceeding 30 characters.

DESCRIPTION

In the description of the stratigraphic data for the locality, the stratigraphy name of the bed in which the fossils are found. This is the lowest category in the sequence Group, Formation, Member, Bed. As in the case of the others, the term can be interpreted broadly, in order to accommodate designations for lowest-order local stratigraphic units, whether they are formally designated "beds" or not.

INTERNAL TABLE.FIELD NAMES

loc.bed

ALLOWED VALUES

Any

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Biome

The inferred biome of the locality.

DATA TYPE

A predefined character string not exceeding 15 characters.

DESCRIPTION

The biome inferred for the "eco-environment" of the locality. Biomes are major terrestrial ecosystem types, classified primarily on the basis of the major vegetation formation represented in the region, which is used as a shorthand not only for the dominant vegetation, but also for climatic and other physical factors. The choices given below represent the coarsest level of classification of present-day biomes, conforming to a number of textbook presentations. They are probably useful for the middle Tertiary and younger, though not all of them have necessarily been present for that span of time. Finer subdivisions, available in modern ecological schemes, are probably difficult to infer from available fossil evidence. Finer subdivisions may also represent more historically restricted, recently formed versions of the general categories. Obviously, there are many "paleobiomes" not in existence today; most of these have never been described explicitly as distinct "biomes" by either paleontologists or ecologists. However, often extinct ecosystems cannot fit comfortably into present-day classification schemes, and the definition of new biomes becomes necessary. For example, the Triassic Araucarioxylon forests represented in the Petrified Forest of Arizona cannot be described as "coniferous forest" in the modern sense. It is expected that the list below will be augmented, as appropriate, by the definition of paleobiomes based on future research. One of the purposes of this entry in the database is to encourage researchers working on Early Tertiary, Mesozoic, and Paleozoic faunas and floras to think in terms of paleobiomes.

INTERNAL TABLE.FIELD NAMES

loc.biome

ALLOWED VALUES

Explanation
bl_evergreen_f
broad-leaved evergreen forest (e.g., tropical rainforest)
chaparral
"mediterranean" sclerophyll vegetation
coniferous_f
coniferous forest, including boreal and subalpine
deciduous_f
e.g., temperate angiosperm forests
desert
arid, both hot and cold desert
grassland
treeless grasslands, including prairie, steppe
savanna
including bush, etc., with trees widely spaced
tundra
including alpine tundra
woodland
non-closed canopy, trees closely spaced

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Bottom of Sample Unit

The distance of the bottom of the locality sample unit from the datum plane.

DATA TYPE

A real number.

DESCRIPTION

The distance, in meters, from the Datum Plane (which see) to the bottom of the fossil sample unit. It may be positive (up) or negative (down) from the datum plane. It is assumed that the fossil deposit will exhibit some thickness; thus this field in concert with the Top of Sample Unit field can indicate the thickness of the unit. The Bottom of Sample Unit may equal the Top of Sample Unit if thickness is negligible in relation to the total section, or is unknown or otherwise not recorded.

INTERNAL TABLE.FIELD NAMES

loc.bos

ALLOWED VALUES

Any

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Chronostratigraphic Age


A chronostratigraphic unit, chron, biozone, biostratigraphic unit, etc., to which the locality can be assigned.

DATA TYPE

A character field not to exceed 20 characters.

DESCRIPTION

A chronostratigraphic unit, chron, biozone, biostratigraphic unit, etc., to which the locality can be assigned. This term may be identical to a time-unit Bfa field entry, but this field is independent of any of the age fields. Thus, one may record here a time-unit assignment (such as a Land Mammal Age) for a locality that is actually dated using radiometric dates, a floral or faunal affiliation, or an important chronostratigraphic or biostratigraphic correlate that is reflected in neither the age information or the stratigraphic information.

This field is entirely optional, but may be useful in certain kinds of database searches. For example, one may wish to search for all of the localities whose faunas are "Clarendonian," without specifying an age-range in Ma. (e.g., one may suspect that the conventional ages assigned to the Clarendonian Land Mammal Age are not correct and some "Clarendonian" faunas lie outside those boundaries.) Searching only on Bfa fields for "Clarendonian" would miss Clarendonian-age localities with entirely "absolute" dates in the database. Finally, searching on the age-range in Ma for the Clarendonian would also retrieve localities throughout the world dated to periods of time or age ranges that overlapped that of the Clarendonian, in addition to the localities of interest. Thus, use of this field could simplify searches that otherwise might require more complicated database queries with a number of boolean conditions.

INTERNAL TABLE.FIELD NAMES

loc.chron

ALLOWED VALUES

Any

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Climate Type

The general inferred climatic regime of the locality.

DATA TYPE

A predefined character string not exceeding 15 characters.

DESCRIPTION

The general climatic regime inferred for the locality.

INTERNAL TABLE.FIELD NAMES

loc.climate_type

ALLOWED VALUES

cold_temperate
paratropical
subtropical
temperate
tropical

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Comment

A general comment on the addition of a new locality, or an update.

DATA TYPE

Character field not exceeding 255 characters.

DESCRIPTION

Each time a locality is added to the database, the Data-Entry Authorization section (see the Overview) must be filled out. The same thing occurs whenever the data for the locality are updated. Included in this part of the data fields is a comment field. Include here reservations about certain data, explanations of what some inferences were based on, what references were used for what data, and other miscellaneous useful comments on your work in preparing the data for entry. Be brief!

 

INTERNAL TABLE.FIELD NAMES

lau.comment

ALLOWED VALUES

Any

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Country

Country where locality is found.

DATA TYPE

A character field not exceeding 20 characters.

DESCRIPTION

The country where the locality is found.

 

INTERNAL TABLE.FIELD NAMES

loc.country

ALLOWED VALUES

Any

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County

County or parish where locality is found.

DATA TYPE

A character field not exceeding 20 characters.

DESCRIPTION

The county or parish (or other second-order national subdivision) where the locality is found. For U.S. counties, do not include an abbreviation for (or the word) "county" as part of the name.

INTERNAL TABLE.FIELD NAMES

loc.county

ALLOWED VALUES

Any

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Data Authorizer

The authorizer of the data.

DATA TYPE

A character field not exceeding 25 characters. MANDATORY FIELD.

DESCRIPTION

The name of the member of a research group who authorizes the entry of information into the database. This may or may not be the same as the Data Coordinator. It is intended that the currently empowered Authorizers be a small and restricted set of research group members who work closely with the database. Their job is to certify that the data prepared by the Data Coordinator(s) meet the current standards for scientific accuracy and have been entered logically. They are also responsible for catching major errors of a scientific nature, inconsistencies, and misunderstandings on the part of whoever filled out the datasheet. No datasheet can be entered without an Authorizer.

INTERNAL TABLE.FIELD NAMES

lau.authorizer

ALLOWED VALUES

Any

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Data Coordinator

The name of the researcher preparing the data for entry.

DATA TYPE

A character string not exceeding 25 characters. MANDATORY FIELD.

DESCRIPTION

The data for each entity are prepared by or under the supervision of a particular researcher (or group of researchers). This (these) person(s) is designated the Data Coordinator, and is the primary source of the information and is responsible for its accuracy. Data Coordinators may or may not also be Data Authorizers. Data Coordinators possess such rights over the data as the Consortium has decided in its general policy on the subject. Briefly, for entities designated as "private", the Data Coordinator's data are treated as a collection that the Data Coordinator is actively working on. Thus, the Data Coordinator must be consulted/informed when other researchers use the data in some project intended for publication. The Data Coordinator may deny permission for such use. The Data Coordinator may initially or at a later time designate the status of a species or locality as "public". In this case, the data become "public domain" and can be used by anyone with access privileges to the database, for any purpose, without informing or obtaining permission from the Data Coordinator. The Consortium has established a time period (5 years from date of entry or last modification) after which data of a particular entity will convert to "public" status, unless there are compelling reasons to retain private status.

 

INTERNAL TABLE.FIELD NAMES

lau.coordinator

ALLOWED VALUES

Any

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Dating Method

The method used to assign a geologic age-range to the locality.

DATA TYPE

A character string not exceeding 9 characters. MANDATORY FIELD.

 

DESCRIPTION

In order to provide the proper checks for internal consistency, the data-entry program must know what the basic method(s) were that the researcher used to assign the dates to the locality. There are three choices:

(1) time_unit: The age range (maximum and minimum ages) are based on the span of one geochronologic unit (Time Unit), or a fraction thereof (see Basis for Age and Fraction of Age fields). Numerical minimum and maximum ages are assigned by the computer based on stored values. (Please note that the chrons of the magnetic polarity time scale are calibrated by radiometric and stratigraphic methods, and thus represent time_unit entities, not absolute dating methods.),

 

(2) absolute: The age range is based entirely on one or more techniques of absolute dating. The numerical ages are entered directly by the user, and the method(s) appear in the respective bfa fields, and

 

(3) composite: The maximum and minimum ages are based on different criteria. There are two situations. (1) One date is based on a time_unit, the other on an absolute method. (2) The maximum and minimum ages are based on the spans of different time-units (e.g., from the bottom of the Cretaceous to the top of the Paleocene). In the latter case, the "frac" fields (which see) can be used to refine the range further. All fields are open to user-input.

INTERNAL TABLE.FIELD NAMES

loc.date_meth

ALLOWED VALUES

absolute
composite
time_unit

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Datum Plane

The basis for placement of a locality in a measured section.

DATA TYPE

A character string not exceeding 50 characters.

DESCRIPTION

Some localities can be placed in measured sections, their position being expressed as a certain number of meters from a particular datum plane. This field is to contain a short description of that datum plane, in order to interpret the values in the Top of Sample and Bottom of Sample fields (which see).

INTERNAL TABLE.FIELD NAMES

loc.datum_plane

ALLOWED VALUES

Any

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Event/Circumstance

The kind of sedimentological event or circumstance associated with the formation of the fossil deposit.

DATA TYPE

A predefined character string not exceeding 15 characters.

DESCRIPTION

Within a particular sedimentary environment, there may be more specific events or circumstances associated with the formation of the fossil deposit. See also Sedimentary Environment 1, Sedimentary Environment 2, Sedimentary Environment Comments.

INTERNAL TABLE.FIELD NAMES

loc.event_circum

ALLOWED VALUES

airfall
amber
burrow
coprolite
explosion
flood
midden
mudflow
storm
tar
tree_trunk

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Exact Number of Specimens

The exact total number of specimens collected from the locality.

DATA TYPE

Integer.

DESCRIPTION

In some cases the total number of specimens collected (or available for study) from a locality may be known exactly. If so, this value could be used in interconverting between raw counts of individuals or specimens and percents, or in various statistical analyses. Note that if the exact number of specimens is known, the Approximate Number of Specimens is also known, and is the same number. Be sure to fill in both fields if the exact number of specimens is known.

INTERNAL TABLE.FIELD NAMES

loc.num_spm

ALLOWED VALUES

Any

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Formation

The stratigraphic formation in which the locality is found.

DATA TYPE

A character field not exceeding 30 characters.

DESCRIPTION

The name of the stratigraphic formation in which the locality is found. "Formation" is the second in the series of hierarchical stratigraphic terms employed here: Group, Formation, Member, Bed. Do not include the word "Formation" as part of the name.

INTERNAL TABLE.FIELD NAMES

loc.formation

ALLOWED VALUES

Any

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Fraction of Age -- MaxFrac, MinFrac

A specified fraction of a non-absolute time unit.

DATA TYPE

A character string in the form ####:####, where # = any digit, 0-9.

DESCRIPTION

When a (non-absolute) time unit is specified in either of the Basis for Age fields (which see), it may be useful to specify only a fraction of the time represented by the time unit as the age range of the locality. In this way, for example, one can specify "Late Maestrichtian," "Middle Triassic," and so forth. However, this field can also be used more flexibly, to divide any time unit into up to 9999 segments and refer to any one individually.

The entries in the field must consist of two integers, separated by a colon. The second integer is a "denominator," the number of segments into which the time unit is divided. The first integer is the specific segment that is to represent the age range of the locality, counting from the bottom (the oldest segment). For example, when one refers to the "later Wasatchian" one (probably) means the upper (or second) half. This would be specified as "Wasatchian" in the Basis for Age field, and 2:2 in the Fraction of Age field. (Literally, the second half.) When assigning an age range to this locality, the computer first looks in the time unit table under "Wasatchian" and finds that the age range represented by the Wasatchian is, say, 50 to 54 Ma. It then checks the Fraction of Age field, sees that the upper half of this age range is what is wanted, and assigns 50 to 52 Ma as the age range of the locality. If the Fraction of Age field had read "1:2" (the lower, or first, half) it would have assigned the age range of 52 to 54 Ma. Likewise, to specify the middle third of a time unit, enter "2:3," and the 465th 728th, enter "465:728."

 

There are three advantages to this system. First, although conventional divisions of many geologic time units are in force, it is not always clear exactly what segment of time researchers mean when they use the qualifiers "late," "middle," "upper," "lower," and so forth. This is especially true for lower-ranked or regional time units whose subdivisions may not be formally defined. This system encourages everyone to be explicit. Second, what the Fraction of Age field essentially does is to place localities in stratigraphic position within the range of the time unit. Then, if the time unit's age range changes as a result of future research, all of the localities will retain their relative age relationships as their ages are updated. Third, in those situations where one has exceptional stratigraphic and temporal control, one can arbitrarily define very narrow time segments and assign localities of a section to them--while still connecting the section to a recognized time unit.

See also Locality Ages in the Overview, Minimum Age, Maximum Age, and Basis for Age.

INTERNAL TABLE.FIELD NAMES

loc.frac_max, loc.frac_min

ALLOWED VALUES

Any (in proper format).

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General Locality?

An indicator of whether the locality is a "general" locality.

 

DATA TYPE

A single character (y or n).

DESCRIPTION

In some cases, there may be several specific localities in an area, but in addition important information and/or specimens may be known from the area that cannot be associated with any particular one. (For example, museum collections may contain specimens from the area collected before detailed records were kept, or ones that for various reasons no longer have sufficient information.) It is possible to create a new locality and designate it as a "general" locality. A general locality is defined as a locality in the database that contains within its area other localities recorded separately in the database. A general locality can thus "hold" information not recordable in any of the various other primary localities. The nature of the general locality can be described in the appropriate comment fields. Most localities will not be general localities. See also Site Area.

CAUTION! Do not use the "general locality" to create "local faunas" or "floras" consisting of the combined species lists of several localities that are otherwise recorded in the database. The formation of higher-level groupings of localities is left to the user, since there are many different criteria by which to group localities. Combinations of localities are not stored in the database. Users may combine localities at the data analysis stage, when working with datasets that have been downloaded from the database. Also, users of the graphics interface may store in their own private files named faunas/floras, which are basically lists of localities. (For example, a local fauna would consist of a name, age, location and a list of included localities. The age and location are based on the values for the contained localities, and are calculated automatically by the computer). When the graphics interface accesses one of these faunas or floras, it constructs a combined (union) species list for all of the contained localities, based on the current species lists of the individual localities. This way, a given primary locality can belong to any number of higher-level groupings, which are always consistent with each other and with the contents of the contained localities. Note the way that the General Locality field is particularly useful in such a scheme. It allows material to be assigned to a fauna or flora through creation of a virtual locality that can be added to the locality list of a fauna/flora.

INTERNAL TABLE.FIELD NAMES

loc.gen_loc

ALLOWED VALUES

n
y

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Group

The stratigraphic group in which the locality is found.

DATA TYPE

A character field not exceeding 30 characters.

DESCRIPTION

The name of the stratigraphic group in which the locality is found. Group, as used here, is the highest of the hierarchical stratigraphic terms: group, formation, member, bed. It should be used flexibly to include appropriate designations for the locality. For example "Newark Supergroup" belongs here, though technically of a higher hierarchical level, because it is more informative than the less well-known corresponding group names.

INTERNAL TABLE.FIELD NAMES

loc.lgroup

ALLOWED VALUES

Any

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Invertebrate Preservation

The primary mode of preservation of invertebrate fossils.

DATA TYPE

A predefined character string not exceeding 12 characters in length.

DESCRIPTION

The primary mode of preservation of fossil invertebrate remains.

 

INTERNAL TABLE.FIELD NAMES

loc.invert_pres

ALLOWED VALUES

3-D
compression
steinkern

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Latitude

The latitude of the locality.

DATA TYPE

A character string not exceeding 14 characters. MANDATORY FIELD.

DESCRIPTION

The latitude of the locality, in degrees, minutes, seconds (DMS) format or in decimal (real number) format. If using decimal format N is positive and S is negative. If using DMS format, you must include all three--degrees, minutes, seconds--even if some are zero. Separate degrees, minutes, and seconds with a single space. Thus write 12 30 00 N. The computer actually calculates, stores, and uses the degrees in decimal format (e. g., 12.5 degrees). However, it uses the DMS form for display, and will accept either as input.

INTERNAL TABLE.FIELD NAMES

loc.dms_lat (DMS)

loc.dec_lat (Real number)

ALLOWED VALUES

Any

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Lithology Comments

Comments field for describing lithology.

DATA TYPE

A character field not exceeding 120 characters.

DESCRIPTION

Miscellaneous short description of the lithology of the locality and the fossil-bearing deposit in particular. Restricted to a few words. See also Rock Type and Short Descriptor.

 

INTERNAL TABLE.FIELD NAMES

loc.lith_comm

ALLOWED VALUES

Any

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Locality Detail

Details of geographical location.

DATA TYPE

A character field not exceeding 40 characters.

DESCRIPTION

Any relevant details about the geographical location of the locality, or peculiarities of its situation. Examples: "Road cut 6 km west of Dirtville," "Within Badlands National Park," "Acme Corp. strip mine # 47."

INTERNAL TABLE.FIELD NAMES

loc.loc_detail

ALLOWED VALUES

Any

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Locality Name

The name of the locality.

DATA TYPE

A character string of up to 30 characters.

DESCRIPTION

The name by which the locality is known, if any. This may be a string of any letters or numbers, not exceeding 30 characters in length. (Abbreviate if necessary.) The database actually keeps track of each locality by its unique ID number (LID) which the computer assigns upon the initial entry of a locality to the database. Thus, there is no requirement for locality names to be unique. Their only function is as useful information. Locality names can be shown on the graphical interface display. If the locality goes by more than one name in the literature or museum collections, try to choose the most well-known or distinctive designation for it, and include the other name(s) in the Synonyms List for the locality.

INTERNAL TABLE.FIELD NAMES

loc.name

ALLOWED VALUES

Any

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Locality Type

The type of fossil organisms found at the locality.

DATA TYPE

A single predefined character. MANDATORY FIELD.

DESCRIPTION

The type of fossil organisms found at the locality that have been identified taxonomically to form one or more species lists. This field indicates whether there exists an animal species list, a (macro) plant species list, a pollen species list, or both plant (any kind) and animal species lists for this locality. Note that even in the case where, say, fossil pollen taxa have been recovered and identified from the site of a vertebrate or plant macrofossil locality, it will usually be most useful to record this as an instance of a separate pollen locality at the same location as that of the other locality or localities. This is because workers may want to know about co-occurrences of plant and animal fossils, but will seldom want to perform any kind of data analysis on mixed species lists. Keeping animal, (macro) plant, and pollen localites as separate entities facilitates the separation of the species lists for analytical purposes. Sometimes, the presence of fossil remains of plants, animals, or pollen is merely noted, and these organisms have not been collected or identified. (For example, miscellaneous plant remains at a vertebrate locality.) In such a case, indicate the presence of the appropriate unstudied other organisms in the Sedimentary Structures and Taphonomic Detail List for the locality -- but do not list the locality type as "both" since there is no species list in which these unstudied and unidentified specimens are represented.

INTERNAL TABLE.FIELD NAMES

loc.type

ALLOWED VALUES

 
Explanation
a animal
b both
p plant
s pollen

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Longitude

The longitude of the locality.

DATA TYPE

A character string not exceeding 14 characters, or a real number. MANDATORY FIELD.

DESCRIPTION

The longitude of the locality, in degrees, minutes, seconds (DMS) format or in decimal (real number) format. If using decimal format E is positive and W is negative. If using DMS format, you must include all three--degrees, minutes, seconds--even if some are zero. Separate degrees, minutes, and seconds with a single space. Thus write 112 30 00 W. The computer actually calculates, stores, and uses degrees in decimal format (e. g., -112.5 degrees). However, it uses the DMS form for display, and accepts either form as input.

INTERNAL TABLE.FIELD NAMES

loc.dms_long (DMS)

loc.dec_long (Real number)

ALLOWED VALUES

Any

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Maximum Age

The maximum age limit of the locality, in Ma.

DATA TYPE

A real number (with an optional decimal point). MANDATORY FIELD.

DESCRIPTION

The maximum (= oldest) age that the locality is thought to possess, in millions of years before the present (Ma). Absolute ages are usually expressed as a value +/- an error term; use (value + error-term) for Maximum Age. The computer supplies numerical ages automatically for non-absolute ages (see Locality Ages in the Overview; Basis for Age, Fraction of Age, Minimum Age). It is legal for the Maximum Age to be equal to the Minimum Age, but this implies that the age of the locality is known exactly.

INTERNAL TABLE.FIELD NAMES

loc.max_age

ALLOWED VALUES

Any

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Member

The stratigraphic member in which the locality is found.

DATA TYPE

A character field not exceeding 30 characters.

DESCRIPTION

The name of the member of a formation in which the locality is found. "Member" is the third in the series of hierarchical stratigraphic terms employed here: Group, Formation, Member, Bed. Do not include the word "Member" as part of the name.

INTERNAL TABLE.FIELD NAMES

loc.member

ALLOWED VALUES

Any

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Minimum Age

The minimum age limit of the locality, in Ma.

 

DATA TYPE

A real number (with an optional decimal point). MANDATORY FIELD.

DESCRIPTION

The minimum (= youngest) age that the locality is thought to possess, in millions of years before the present (Ma). Absolute ages are usually expressed as a value +/- an error term; use (value - error term) for Minimum Age. The computer supplies numerical ages automatically for non-absolute ages (see Locality Ages in the Overview; Basis for Age, Fraction of Age, Maximum Age). It is legal for the Minimum Age to be equal to the Maximum Age, but this implies that the age of the locality is known exactly.

INTERNAL TABLE.FIELD NAMES

loc.min_age

ALLOWED VALUES

Any

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Moisture

The amount of moisture characteristic of the environment.

DATA TYPE

A predefined character string not exceeding 3 characters.

DESCRIPTION

The amount of moisture characteristic of the overall environment. It basically refers to the climate -- rainfall, evaporation, etc. This is distinct from Water Availability (which see), in that the latter refers to the availability of water to the vegetation of a plant locality. Because a plant locality may be sampling only a restricted subhabitat, the water availability may be different than in the overall environment (e.g., a plant locality could sample a wet area within a dry environment.) . The entry "int" signifies an "intermediate" level of moisture.

INTERNAL TABLE.FIELD NAMES

loc.moisture

ALLOWED VALUES

dry
int
wet

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Number of Quadrats

The total number of quadrats (or other sampling units) upon which quadrat counts are based.

DATA TYPE

An integer.

DESCRIPTION

Abundances of species at a locality may be expressed as the number of standardized quadrats, squares, samples, or other standard sampling units in which the species occurs (see Abundance Data). In this case, the total number of quadrats or samples upon which the counts are based cannot be reconstructed from the values for the individual species, and should be recorded here. This value can then be used to transform raw quadrat counts for the locality into percents or proportions and serves as an indicator of sampling intensity.

INTERNAL TABLE.FIELD NAMES

loc.num_quad

ALLOWED VALUES

Any

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Nutrient Availability

Availability of nutrients to the plants at a locality.

DATA TYPE

A predefined character string not exceeding 7 characters in length.

DESCRIPTION

Availability of nutrients to the plants of a locality.

INTERNAL TABLE.FIELD NAMES

loc.nutrients

ALLOWED VALUES

low
not_low

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Part Concentration

The concentration of fossil specimens at the locality.

DATA TYPE

A predefined character string not exceeding 10 characters in length.

DESCRIPTION

The concentration of specimens (not necessarily "individuals") in the fossil deposit. Count or estimate identified and unidentified parts. The aim is to get an indication of the richness of organic remains at the site. Such information is most directly available from excavations (quarries) but also could be derived from controlled surface collecting. In some cases, less precise quantitative descriptions will be sufficient to place a locality within one of the ranges listed below. Estimate either number per unit area (m2) or per unit volume (m3), whichever is more appropriate for the locality.

INTERNAL TABLE.FIELD NAMES

loc.pt_conc

ALLOWED VALUES

1-10/m2
10-100/m2
100-1000/m2
>1000/m2
<1/100m2
1-10/100m2
1-10/m3
10-100/m3
100-1000/m3
1000-10000/m3
>10000/m3
<1/100m3
1-10/100m3
<10^2/cm3
10^2-10^3/cm3
10^3-10^4/cm3
10^4-10^5/cm3
10^5-10^6/cm3
>10^6/cm3
isol_occur -------------------------isolated occurrence

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Plant Preservation

The primary mode of preservation of plant fossils.

DATA TYPE

A predefined character string not exceeding 12 characters in length.

DESCRIPTION

The primary mode of preservation of fossil plant remains.

INTERNAL TABLE.FIELD NAMES

loc.plant_pres

ALLOWED VALUES

cast
compression
impression
petrifaction

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Primary Productivity Level

The level of annual primary productivity.

DATA TYPE

A predefined character string not exceeding 4 characters in length.

DESCRIPTION

The general level of annual primary productivity inferred for the locality. Based upon any available evidence.

INTERNAL TABLE.FIELD NAMES

loc.pri_prod

ALLOWED VALUES

high
low
med

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Rock Type

The general rock type in which the fossils are found.

DATA TYPE

A predefined character string not exceeding 15 characters in length.

DESCRIPTION

A single term describing the general rock type in which the fossils are found. For clastic sediments, this is one of the usual grain-size descriptors. However, other major lithological types are also to be entered here. [The current list may not be complete.]

Most locality lithologies can be succinctly described using Rock Type and one or two short adjectives (such as arkosic sandstone, black laminated shale). The adjective(s) should be entered in the Short Descriptor field (which see). See also Lithology Comments.

INTERNAL TABLE.FIELD NAMES

loc.rock_type

ALLOWED VALUES

chert
claystone
coal
gravel
grit
limestone
mudstone
sandstone
shale
siltstone
tuff

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Seasonality

A field that indicates seasonality of water, temperature, and/or light.

DATA TYPE

A predefined character string not exceeding 16 characters in length.

DESCRIPTION

Environments can exhibit seasonality of water availability, light, and temperature in any combination. The allowed values for this field are all combinations of these three environmental factors. The intensity of seasonality of each of these factors can be specified by simultaneous use of the Seasonality Intensity field (which see).

INTERNAL TABLE.FIELD NAMES

loc.seasonality

ALLOWED VALUES

light
light-temp
none
temp
water
water-light
water-light-temp
water-temp

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Seasonality Intensity

Intensity of seasonality of factors in the Seasonality field.

DATA TYPE

A predefined character string not exceeding 3 characters in length.

DESCRIPTION

The entries here modify the entries in the Seasonality field (which see). They consist only of the characters plus (h) -- signifying high seasonality, underscore (m) -- signifying medium seasonality, and minus (l) -- signifying low seasonality. The order of the entries, and their number, is to match the respective entries in the Seasonality field. Thus, with "light" the entry in the seasonality field, "h" in the seasonality intensity table indicates high seasonality of light (such as would obtain in high latitudes). With "water-temp" the entry in the seasonality field, "ml" indicates medium water seasonality and low temperature seasonality. With "water-light-temp" the entry in the seasonality field, "hhl" means high water and light seasonality, and low temperature seasonality. And so on.

INTERNAL TABLE.FIELD NAMES

loc.seas_intens

ALLOWED VALUES

(All combinations of h, m, l . See above.)

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Sedimentary Environment 1

The general sedimentary environment represented at the locality.

DATA TYPE

A predefined character string not exceeding 13 characters in length.

DESCRIPTION

The general sedimentary environmental setting of the locality. This can be augmented by more detailed description in Sedimentary Environment 2, Event/Circumstance, and Sedimentary Environment Comments (which see). Lakes ("lacustrine") are divided into large and small. See Behrensmeyer and Hook, et al. (1992) for more detailed discussion of sedimentary environments for terrestrial fossil assemblages.

INTERNAL TABLE.FIELD NAMES

loc.sed_env_1

ALLOWED VALUES

coastal
deltaic
eolian
fluvial
fluv_deltaic
fluv_lacustr
karst
lacustrine
lacustrine_lg
lacustrine_sm
marine
trap
volcanic

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Sedimentary Environment 2

The more specific sedimentary environment represented at the locality.

DATA TYPE

A predefined character string not exceeding 15 characters in length.

DESCRIPTION

The specific sedimentary environment of the locality. These entries are meant to be hierarchically subordinate to Sedimentary Environment 1. Most terms are self-evident. Explanations of a few are given below. See Behrensmeyer and Hook, et al. (1992) for more detailed discussion of sedimentary environments for terrestrial fossil assemblages. See also Sedimentary Environment 1, Event/Circumstance and Sedimentary Environment Comments.

INTERNAL TABLE.FIELD NAMES

loc.sed_env_2

ALLOWED VALUES

Explanation
ab_chan_fill abandoned channel fill
alluvial_fan
beach
cave
chan_bar channel bar
channel
crev_splay crevasse splay
deep_lake
dry_floodplain
dune
estuary
fissure
floodplain
interdist_bay interdistributary bay
interdune
lagoon
lake_margin
levee
loess
offshore
overbank
paleosol
raised_bog
shallow_lake
sinkhole
spring
swamp
wet_floodplain

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Sedimentary Environment Comments

Comments on the sedimentary environment.

DATA TYPE

A predefined character string not exceeding 50 characters in length.

DESCRIPTION

Brief comments on the sedimentary environment, augmenting the other sedimentary environment fields. See also Sedimentary Environment 1, Event/Circumstance, and Sedimentary Environment 2.

INTERNAL TABLE.FIELD NAMES

loc.se_comm

ALLOWED VALUES

Any

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Short Descriptor

A one- or two-word descriptor of the lithology in the Rock Type field.

DATA TYPE

A predefined character string not exceeding 20 characters in length.

DESCRIPTION

Most lithologies can be succinctly described by a general rock type (such as is entered in the Rock Type field) in conjunction with one or two adjectives (calcareous sandstone; gray laminated shale; red mudstone). Enter these adjectives here. Further detail can be entered in the Lithology Comments field. See also the Sedimentary Structures and Taphonomic Detail List.

INTERNAL TABLE.FIELD NAMES

loc.rt_adj

ALLOWED VALUES

Any

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Site Area

The approximate area that the fossil locality covers.

DATA TYPE

A predefined character string not exceeding 10 characters in length.

DESCRIPTION

The approximate area covered by the actual fossil site. See also the General Locality? field.

INTERNAL TABLE.FIELD NAMES

loc.site_area

ALLOWED VALUES

<10m2
10-50m2
50-100m2
100-1000m2
>1000m2

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Species List for this Locality Complete?

Whether the species list entered is known to be complete.

DATA TYPE

A predefined character string not exceeding 1 character in length.

DESCRIPTION

Sometimes data from fossil localities are published in a series of taxonomic monographs, only some of which may be available at the time of entry for a locality. Also, some material from a locality may not yet be identified or prepared. In such cases, we know that we have a species list that is taxonomically restricted and currently incomplete. Other species are known from the locality, but at this moment we do not have all of that information in the database. Use this field to indicate known incompleteness of our record of a locality. That is, use it to inform the user that there are more data to be added to this locality as soon as the work of identifying or compiling them has been completed. Do not use this field to express incompleteness due to sedimentological and taphonomic factors, or to collecting bias. Species lists are virtually always "incomplete" in this sense, but the missing species are not (and may never be) known from the locality.

INTERNAL TABLE.FIELD NAMES

loc.complete

ALLOWED VALUES

n

y

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State

State or province where locality is found.

DATA TYPE

A character field not exceeding 20 characters.

DESCRIPTION

The state or province (or other first-order national subdivision) where the locality is found.

INTERNAL TABLE.FIELD NAMES

loc.state

ALLOWED VALUES

Any

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Status

The current status (public or private) of a locality record.

DATA TYPE

A predefined character string not exceeding 15 character in length.

DESCRIPTION

Every species or locality record in the Database at any moment is assigned a status, which indicates the level of access permitted to that record. Currently, the value "public" indicates that the record is essentially "public domain" and will be made available without restriction in the public domain version of the ETE Database. The value "private" indicates that the record will be accessible only to those researchers who have access to the ongoing working database. Records will ordinarily be entered with "private" status until the members of the Project (q.v.) that has generated them releases them to the public. The Data Coordinator (q.v.) for each record is ultimately responsible for any changes of its status. Additional values for status may eventually be added if it becomes necessary to specify in finer detail the access level of an entity.

INTERNAL TABLE.FIELD NAMES

loc.status

ALLOWED VALUES

private
public

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Taphonomy Comments

Comments field for describing taphonomy.

DATA TYPE

A character field not exceeding 120 characters.

DESCRIPTION

Miscellaneous short description of the taphonomy of the fossil-bearing deposit.

INTERNAL TABLE.FIELD NAMES

loc.taph_comm

ALLOWED VALUES

Any

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Temperature

The temperature regime of the locality's environment.

DATA TYPE

A predefined character string not exceeding 4 characters in length.

DESCRIPTION

The general temperature regime characteristic of the overall environment. It basically refers to the climate, and is included in case one wishes to specify a temperature regime independent of modern-day climate types. See also Climate Type. "Mod" indicates "moderate."

INTERNAL TABLE.FIELD NAMES

loc.temperature

ALLOWED VALUES

cold
hot
mod

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Time Represented

Time represented by the fossil deposit.

DATA TYPE

A predefined character string not exceeding 9 characters in length.

DESCRIPTION

The approximate amount of time that is represented by the fossil deposit. For many localities inferences can be made about the probable amount of time that is averaged in the deposit, based on sedimentological and taphonomic criteria. For example, a bone bed may represent a catastrophic death that occurred in one season or instant, or may represent accumulations over years resulting from the action of some bone-concentrating agent (see Beherensmeyer and Hook, et al. 1992:79-86). The allowed values express ranges of time, in years. The circumflex (^) signifies raising to a power (i.e., 10^3 =1000).

INTERNAL TABLE.FIELD NAMES

loc.time_rep

ALLOWED VALUES

<1
1-10^1
10^1-10^2
10^2-10^3
10^3-10^4
10^4-10^5
10^5-10^6
>10^6

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Top of Sample Unit

The distance of the Top of the locality sample unit from the datum plane.

DATA TYPE

A real number.

DESCRIPTION

The distance, in meters, from the Datum Plane (which see) to the Top of the fossil sample unit. It may be positive (up) or negative (down) from the datum plane. It is assumed that the fossil deposit will exhibit some thickness; thus this field in concert with the Bottom of Sample Unit field can indicate the thickness of the unit. The Top of Sample Unit may equal the Bottom of Sample Unit if thickness is negligible in relation to the section, or is unknown or otherwise not recorded.

INTERNAL TABLE.FIELD NAMES

loc.tos

ALLOWED VALUES

Any

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Transport

Degree and mode of transport affecting the fossil assemblage.

DATA TYPE

A predefined character string not exceeding 15 characters in length.

DESCRIPTION

This field describes the extent and nature of taphonomic transport processes that have affected the assemblage. Assemblages may be transported, winnowed, or both. To record level of abrasion, see Abrasion, to record other specific evidence related to transport, see the Sedimentary Structures and Taphonomic Detail List.

INTERNAL TABLE.FIELD NAMES

loc.transport

ALLOWED VALUES

Explanation
high_trans highly transported
high_trans_winn all three
trans transported
trans_winn transported and winnowed
untrans untransported
untrans_winn untransported and winnowed

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Unbiased Collecting?

Was the collection made essentially without bias?

DATA TYPE

A predefined character string not exceeding 1 character in length.

DESCRIPTION

To what degree can we trust the species list or abundance values, as representations of the fossil material actually found at the locality? It is hard to guarantee an unbiased collection. Unconscious collector's bias is probably common, and different collecting techniques give rise to different biases in the final collection. However, it should often be possible to distinguish those collections made by workers who tried to collect in an unbiased manner, or used techniques that introduce minimum bias, from collections made by "trophy hunters" or by workers with obvious limitations in their ability (or desire) to sample randomly. The important issue is whether the collection approximates a random sample from the deposit, because in that case statistical techniques for dealing with presence/absence and relative abundance values (if available) will have some applicability. So for this field, answer "y" if, given the collecting techniques used, the resulting collection or report is likely to be a fair sample of what was available. Answer "n" if there is reason to believe that unusual circumstances, collector's motivations, limited attention to some taxa, or other factors have resulted in a collection that is not a fair representation of the material at the locality. Do not use this field to indicate the biases inherent in any particular collecting technique (since almost all are known to be biased anyway). Rather, use it to indicate a known or suspected deviation from the type of sample one would expect from the collecting technique(s) employed.

INTERNAL TABLE.FIELD NAMES

loc.true_quant

ALLOWED VALUES

n
y

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Vegetation/Environmental Detail

A field to record miscellaneous observations and inferences about the vegetation or environment.

DATA TYPE

A character field not exceeding 20 characters in length.

DESCRIPTION

A field to record miscellaneous observations and inferences about the vegetation or environment. Do so in a few words (such as "montane," "gallery forest," "stream border").

INTERNAL TABLE.FIELD NAMES

loc.v_envi_det

ALLOWED VALUES

Any

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Vegetation Height

Height of the vegetation.

DATA TYPE

A predefined character string not exceeding 4 characters in length.

DESCRIPTION

The average height of the vegetation, as opposed to that of any particular plant species. Values are in meters (m).

INTERNAL TABLE.FIELD NAMES

loc.v_ht

ALLOWED VALUES

<2m
2-5m
>5m

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Vegetation Structure

Overall structure of the vegetation.

DATA TYPE

A predefined character string not exceeding 9 characters in length.

DESCRIPTION

Overall structure of the vegetation.

INTERNAL TABLE.FIELD NAMES

loc.v_struct

ALLOWED VALUES

closed
open
semi-open

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Vertebrate Preservation

The predominant state of the vertebrate skeletal remains found at the locality.

DATA TYPE

A predefined character string not exceeding 12 characters in length.

DESCRIPTION

The predominant state of disarticulation and preservation of skeletal remains of vertebrates at the locality. This varies from isolated teeth (such as one would find in microvertebrate assemblages) to relatively complete articulated skeletons. A description of each allowed value is given below.

INTERNAL TABLE.FIELD NAMES

loc.vert_pres

ALLOWED VALUES

Explanation
artic_pts occurrences are mostly or completely articulated skeletons
assoc_pts parts largely disarticulated, but individuals can often be recognized
compression e.g., in lignite
disartic_pts parts are disarticulated, but largely whole, e.g. bone beds (individuals cannot be recognized)
isol_teeth isolated teeth are the only consistently identifiable elements
mixed_assem assemblage contains mixture of elements, i.e. some artic. parts some isolated teeth, some fragmentary material, etc.
not_known

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Water Availability

Amount of water available to the plants of a plant locality.

DATA TYPE

A predefined character string not exceeding 8 characters in length.

DESCRIPTION

The amount of water available to the plants or vegetation sampled by a plant locality. This may be somewhat different from the value for the overall environment or region (see Moisture), because the plant locality may be sampling a particular subhabitat within the region.

INTERNAL TABLE.FIELD NAMES

loc.water

ALLOWED VALUES

mesic
seasonal
wet
xeric

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Weathering/Trampling

Existence of taphonomic evidence of weathering and trampling.

DATA TYPE

A predefined character string not exceeding 9 characters in length.

DESCRIPTION

The field describes the existence of different levels of weathering and trampling damage to fossils. See also Sedimentary Structures and Taphonomic Detail List.

INTERNAL TABLE.FIELD NAMES

loc.weath_trmp

ALLOWED VALUES

Explanation
mx mixed weathered and unweathered
mx_trmp mixed weathered and trampled
trmp trampled
unwe unweathered
unwe_trmp unweathered and trampled
we weathered
we_trmp weathered and trampled

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