Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument is located in Colorado, USA, west of Colorado Springs. The fossils from this area consist mostly of plants and insects, and a few vertebrates, from lake deposits of the Florissant Formation. This formation is dated at 34.07 million years old, and it represents the latest Eocene Epoch of earth history.
The paleontological resources of Florissant include about 1700 species of plants and insects that have been referenced in more than 380 scientific publications over a period of 130 years. Many of the type specimens (those upon which the new species were originally based) from this site have never been illustrated in publication, and often the publications do not indicate the museums at which these type specimens are housed. The type and published collections of Florissant fossils are now in at least 17 different museums throughout North America and Europe. Because this information pertaining to the Florissant fossils has become complexly scattered throughout the literature and between different museums, the National Park Service has developed this new database in order to integrate taxonomic, museum collection, and publication data into a single virtual museum. The database includes new photographs for almost all of the published Florissant specimens. Three different portals are designed to accommodate users ranging from scientific researchers, to educators and students, to the layperson.
The research database allows you to search the museum collections, the taxonomic placement of the fossils, and the bibliography of references. The museum search database provides access to information about the actual specimens, such as what museum they are in, where they have been published, and what various taxonomic names have been used in those publications. The taxonomic database is conceptual and provides an updated taxonomic list of all Florissant species, based upon contemporary concepts of taxonomy. This taxonomic information updates the taxonomic position of Florissant fossils and may supercede the older taxonomic information in the museum database, much of which is more than 100 years old. All specimens in the museum database are linked to the taxonomic database, and vice versa. The bibliographic database makes it possible to search the literature in which the fossils were described, and this is also linked to the museums database. About 4000 pages of relevant publications are available in a digital archive linked to the bibliographic database.
Another facet of the web leads educators and students to curricula designed for high school and college students. These educational applications use the database to draw random fossil samples that the students can identify and use to develop hypotheses about paleoclimate. For the layperson, the web site provides a gallery of some of Florissant's most impressive fossils along with a description of the significance of the Florissant fossil beds.
Important Information before using this database
Information contained within this database website is protected by copyright to the individual museum indicated. All rights reserved. All media for personal use of students, schlolars, and the public. Any commercial use or publication of data or photgraphs is strictly prohibited. You should contact the individual museums for permission before using any of the information in this database for scientific or other purposes. The data contained herein are not public domain.
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