The 81st Annual Meeting of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists (2012)


eFossils.org: a collaborative website and community database for the study of human evolution

JOHN KAPPELMAN1, PETER KEANE2, DENNE REED1, JOSEPH TENBARGE2, ADRIENNE P. WITZEL1, W. ANDREW BARR1, BRETT A. NACHMAN1 and GABRIELLE A. RUSSO1.

1Anthropology, The University of Texas at Austin, 2College of Liberal Arts Instructional Technology Services, The University of Texas at Austin

Friday 8:00-8:15, Grand Ballroom II Add to calendar

The fossil evidence for human evolution has expanded dramatically over the past 30 years and the rapid growth of this record has challenged the traditional approaches of a classroom lecture and hands-on laboratory. In order to provide current information to students, we have built a robust collaborative website, eFossils.org. This website incorporates various data from human evolution (e.g., anatomy, geology, geography, geochronology) within a multimedia learning environment (e.g., color images, 3D animations, video) and offers a series of online tools to visually represent these data and permit their study. The eFossils catalog uses the Darwin Core schema and permits the display and mapping of data sets from any project. The website also includes a “collaboratorium,” a web tool built on a generic template that permits the research community to collaborate on large-scale problems. Collecting all the information for human evolution into a single database is now too large an undertaking for any one group; instead, eFossils is constructed for the collaborative participation of subject-matter experts. We have populated eFossils with several site reports about key hominin fossil localities in order to seed the process of providing a data-rich online presentation. Additional localities can be populated through a collaborative expansion of the database by registered users. Consequently, the organic nature of eFossils reflects the dynamic nature of the field, and as users expand the database with their own research, the “ownership” of the site will transfer to the user community in a manner that mirrors the online expert wikis.

Funding provided by the Longhorn Innovative Fund for Technology (LIFT) from the Research and Educational Technology Committee, and the College of Liberal Arts Instructional Technology Services, The University of Texas at Austin.

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