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A detailed survey of collections and publications for the Florissant fossil beds (Colorado, USA) forms the basis for developing a new relational database and Web site that documents information that had become widely scattered following 130 years of scientific study at Florissant. More than 1700 species that remain valid, mostly of plants, insects, and spiders, had been described in more than 300 publications, and these published specimens had been dispersed among ∼15 museums. Some of these specimens were not well documented in original publications and many of the type specimens had never been illustrated.

Catalog data were compiled on-site at museums, specimens were photographed, and all of the publications referring to Florissant specimens were located. Taxonomic classification of the fossils was updated to modern concepts. A relational database incorporates the data into five core tables for specimens, bibliography, references to specimens in publication, taxonomy, and images. The database allows for complex searches to interrelate these categories, enabling new research and facilitating collections management. Examples show that the largest number of scientific publications and new species descriptions appeared from 1890 to 1920 and that most of the originally described insect species, but only about half of the plant species, still remain valid and unrevised. Digital images of the fossils and digital files for pre-1923 publications form an archive that is linked to the data records. A Web site makes the database publicly accessible for technical use, and also provides a less complex application for the layperson as well as a new college-level curriculum.

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