The palaeontology collection at the British Antarctic Survey is a unique and internationally important collection of specimens sourced predominantly from the Antarctic Peninsula and Scotia Arc. The collection was started in the 1940s and continues to be added to frequently through ongoing BAS research. Its importance lies not only in the fact that it is globally one of the main reference collections of Antarctic palaeontological material, but also in its high proportion of Mesozoic flora and fauna which can be used to understand evolutionary dynamics, continental movements and climatic changes over the past 250 ma.
In addition to molluscs and other major animal phyla, the collection is particularly strong in plant material, ranging from fossilised wood and exceptionally preserved leaves to pollen and spores. Given the logistical challenges of sampling material from the Antarctic continent, this collection represents a wealth of taxa which were previously unknown to science and consequently houses a high number of taxonomic types.
A project is underway to digitally catalogue the BAS Type and Figured fossil collection and make the data easily accessible to researchers worldwide. Currently the data from over 2000 fossil specimens are available online, together with high resolution photographs. Over the next year further specimens, including palynological samples, will be added to the database and photographs will be made available of the entire collection.
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fossil plants, palaeontology, sedimentary rocks, type specimens
The digital information used in the Type and Figured fossil website is stored in an Oracle 10g database. The original data sources include field notebooks, registers and maps plus the physical specimens and the published references. The original data sources are held at the British Antarctic Survey.