From the Museum:
The Canadian Museum of Nature, Canada’s national museum of natural history, has launched a free scientific database featuring open access to more than 710,000 records of plants, animals, fossils, and minerals that are part of the museum’s national collections.
The digitized records represent about one-quarter (or 22%) of the museum’s estimated 3.2 million “cataloguable units” of biological and geological material. Overall, the museum estimates it manages more than 10.5 million individual specimens that have been acquired over more than 150 years. The collections, which cover Canada and other parts of the world, are stored and curated at the museum’s Natural Heritage Campus in Gatineau, Quebec.
The database is enhanced by the addition of about 16,000 records with high-resolution images—the majority are plant specimens stored in the museum’s National Herbarium of Canada. The plants can be easily scanned because they are pressed and preserved for study on flat sheets. In addition, maps using GPS coordinates provide a visual cue to where each specimen was found.
Records can be searched under five main categories: discipline (mineralogy, paleobiology, botany and zoology), taxonomic classification (using the scientific naming convention), location (from latitude/longitude to geographical locale), specimen information such as catalogue number, and a collection date range.
The data fields are also standardized to meet global standards, so that the records can be integrated with international initiatives such as the Global Biodiversity Information Facility, based in Denmark. This network provides open access to scientific data from cooperating museums, universities, government agencies, NGO’s and laboratories in more than 50 countries.
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