I just mentioned that I’ve been out of the loop. Aside from banging my head against the desk over Aaron Filler’s paper, I’ve also been developing the framework to a database of hominin fossil remains. I’d like to share it with you in this post. I’ve creatively named the project, Hominin Database. I coulda gone with a much more elaborate name… but in this age of search engine optimization and human readable formats, I figured having hominin and database will get people to what they wanna see.
I’m developing this project because paleoanthropology desperately needs a public repository of fossil remains. And by no means am I the first. People have tried to do it in the past and have failed for some reason or another. Some were just poorly executed, with confusing user interfaces and strange data structuring. Others weren’t kept up. Others were closed access. With more and more fossils coming out of the ground, we need to get something up there fast before we fall really far behind.
The site is pretty easy to use and has a web 2.0 feel. I’ve got Google Maps going on as well as a dynamic time line which are unique ways to browse the database. If there are 3-D views of the fossils, such as CT scans, I plan to make those available. As of right now I’m not planning on placing any credit other than the authors of the primary publication to each fossil because I know how particular paleoanthropologists are about their fossils. Hopefully this will facilitate some community growth.
Anyways, enough cheer leading… there only 5 fossils currently and a handful of known bugs with the site, mostly formatting issues because of browser inconsistencies. The time feature doesn’t seem to show data in geochronological order… which is something I have to fix. And there’s also some minor problems with the map view too. Basically the site is still in ‘alpha’ not yet ‘beta’ and not even close to being production.
Besides introducing this pet project, I wanted to extend and invitation out to people to help propagate the site with fossils. If you want to help, please comment here or shoot me an email and I’ll get in touch with you. The submission form is very straight forward. If you don’t or can’t help submit fossils, please give me some criticism on what works, what doesn’t, etc.