The New Zealand Fossil Record File: a unique database of biological history
journal contributionposted on 21.08.2020, 02:52 by CD Clowes, James Crampton, KJ Bland, KS Collins, JG Prebble, JI Raine, DP Strogen, MG Terezow, Thomas Womack
© 2020 The Royal Society of New Zealand. The New Zealand Fossil Record File, an essentially complete compilation of New Zealand’s known fossil record, with additional records from parts of Antarctica, SW Pacific, and elsewhere, is, to the best of our knowledge, unique. It has developed collaboratively, with contributions from university, government, industry, and avocational paleontologists and geologists. The distinctive Fossil Record Number has become an icon of New Zealand geological literature since inception of the original paper-based archive in the 1940s. Subsequently, the file has been digitised and currently holds >100,000 locality records and >1,000,000 individual taxonomic identifications spanning numerous plant and animal phyla. These numbers are continually growing. The database contains contextual information on geographic location, collection, stratigraphy and lithology of the fossil localities as well as taxonomic analyses that retain original identifications yet accommodate re-assignments. The data have been widely applied, initially for mapping, establishing age, depositional environment, etc., and more recently including in quantitative biostratigraphy, assessing completeness of the fossil record, understanding biodiversity history, extinction risk assessments, and climate analysis. In this paper, we provide a brief overview of the history of the Fossil Record File, indicate the general nature of the data it contains, and showcase a number of innovative applications of this most valuable resource.