May 19, 2022

New Open Access Science Resource: The Fossil Calibration Database

From Indiana University:

The Fossil Calibration Database, a free, open-access resource that stores carefully vetted fossil data, is the result of years of work from a worldwide team that includes paleontologist David Polly, professor of geological sciences in the Indiana University Bloomington College of Arts and Sciences.

The project was led by Daniel Ksepka, curator of science at the Bruce Museum in Greenwich, Conn., and former postdoctoral fellow at the National Evolutionary Synthesis Center — known as NESCent — and James Parham, curator at the John D. Cooper Archaeological and Paleontological Center in Orange County, Calif. The NESCent Center in Durham, N.C., funded the project.

“Fossils provide the critical age data we need to unlock the timing of major evolutionary events,” Ksepka said. “This new resource will provide the crucial fossil data needed to calibrate ‘molecular clocks’ that can reveal the ages of plant and animal groups that lack good fossil records. Precisely tuning the molecular clock with fossils is the best way we have to tell evolutionary time.”


The database is accompanied by a peer-reviewed scientific series in which paleontologists will assemble the data necessary to calibrate the age of key nodes in the tree of life,” Polly said. “The information will be presented in compact form for non-experts, allowing people to evaluate the calibrations and compare them to alternative hypotheses even without paleontological training.”

Direct to Fossil Calibration Database

The Fossil Calibration Database is a curated collection of well-justified calibrations, including many published in the journal Palaeontologia Electronica. We also promote best practices for justifying fossil calibrations and citing calibrations properly.

Direct to Introductory Editorial About Database (via Palaeontologia Electronica)

Source: Indiana University

Source: Indiana University

About Gary Price

Gary Price ( is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.