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Updated 23 February 2012

New and Old Worlds

Database of fossil mammals

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Data Conventions
Species at Localities
Examples for Species at Localities
Uncertain occurrence of taxon
Uncertain occurrence of taxon with uncertain taxonomic assignment
When a subspecies is listed
When synonymous name is listed
Taxonomic Fields
Description of species
Description of localities
Data entry practices

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As a guideline NOW uses the taxonomy of McKenna & Bell's Classification of Mammals Above the Species Level, except for Muridae for which we use McKenna & Bell's classification with the modifications suggested by Hans de Bruijn.


Species at Localities

The most common function performed in NOW is inputting taxon lists into localities. If the locality in question is not in NOW yet, please follow the instructions under Localities first. When entering taxon lists into a locality, the primary assumption is that all the species already exist in the database, and can be added into the locality with the 'Select species' function. For these species, please follow the rules and examples below.

However, in some cases all of the species do not exist in the database yet, usually because they are informal or recently established species. For such species, use the 'Add new species' function, and follow the guidelines under Taxonomic Fields for correctly entering the taxonomic information of the new species. Then follow these instructions for the occurrence of taxa at the locality you are adding.


The fields explained below can be found in the Locality > Species tab for all species at a locality, and in the Species > Loc-Sp Info tab for all locality occurrences of a specific species.

ID Status
Indicates an uncertain identification and therefore an uncertain occurrence of the taxon at a particular locality, so is an attribute of the species-locality relationship. Usually the ID status is blank.

Valid entries are:

  • family id uncertain
  • genus id uncertain
  • species id uncertain
Additional Info Additional Info field can be used to record locality related species information that cannot be recorded in any other field but might be important for other users to know:
  • Taxonomic devices like 'cf.', 'aff.', 'ex gr.' no longer exist as such in the database, but have instead become attributes of individual occurrences of the taxon, indicated by ID status (or attributes of all instances of the taxon, indicated by taxonomic status). Use 'Additional Info' in these cases to record what was written in the original document

  • 'Additional Info' can contain historical information, for example 'Suidae indet. in older references' or 'previous ID S. splendens incorrect'.

  • You can also enter subspecies names into the 'Additional Info' field (this is preferred over creating a new species entry with a subspecies in the 'Unique ID' field)

Source Name
This information should be recorded for localities where the reference literature lists a species with a junior synonym name. For example:

Reference literature lists the species Listriodon mongoliensis present, but this taxon is recognized by the name of Listriodon splendens in the NOW database. In this case, the taxon will be listed as Listriodon splendens in the Locality species list, but Listriodon mongoliensis will be recorded in the 'Source Name' field.

If a comment '*from merge' appears in the 'Source Name' field after the junior synonym name, this means it was automatically transferred there when two (or more) species were recognized as synonymous during taxonomic updates of the NOW database (and the locality in question listed the junior synonym name).

NOTE: Source Name field was added to NOW in December 2011, so this field will be empty in localities which have not been updated recently.

Other
This information can be added for localities where it is available - it is very valuable but optional:

nis = number of identified specimens
pct = percent
quad = quadrate count
mni = minimum number of individuals
qu = qualitative

Examples – Species at Localities

  • Uncertain occurrence of taxon

NOTE: ideally, where the identification of a taxon is uncertain (meaning the occurrence of the taxon at a certain locality is uncertain), it should not be entered in the database. However, when such taxa are entered for some good reason, this is the accepted style.

Species Species At Locality
Family Subfamily Genus Species Unique ID Status

Situation: uncertain occurrence of species at locality
May appear in literature as: Amphicyon cf. major, cf. Amphicyon major, Amphicyon aff. major, Amphicyon ex gr. major
Amphicyonidae Amphicyoninae Amphicyon major - species id uncertain

Situation: uncertain occurrence of genus at locality
May appear in literature as: cf. Amphicyon sp., cf. Amphicyon indet., cf. Amphicyon, ?Amphicyon
Amphicyonidae Amphicyoninae Amphicyon indet - genus id uncertain

Situation: uncertain occurrence of family at locality
May appear in literature as: cf. Felidae indet. indet.
Felidae   indet. indet. - family id uncertain

Additional Info field can be used to record information when there is uncertainly between two possible species at a locality.


Species Species At Locality
Genus Species Unique Taxonomic Status Additional Info

Situation: Amphicyon major cf. steinheimensis in the literature - if the intention is species major or possibly species steinheimensis
Amphicyon major - - A. major cf. steinheimensis

Situation: Amphicyon major / steinheimensis in the literature - if the intention is species major or species steinheimensis (both as likely, neither is preferred)
Amphicyon indet - - A. major/steinheimensis

Situation: Uncertain genus, species unknown, Amphicyon/Cynelos indet in literature
indet indet - - Amphicyon/Cynelos indet

NOTE: In a few recognised cases, two similar but separate species may not be possible to tell apart (for example, not just from dental material). Where the taxon is thus indeterminate but limited to two known species, and this is a regular occurrence, the species may be entered into NOW as a new species entry. Please see an example under 'Proper use of Taxonomic fields'.

Species Species At Locality
Genus Species Unique Taxonomic Status ID Status

Situation: uncertain occurrence of species at locality
May appear in literature as: cf. Amphicyon cf. steinheimensis, ?Amphicyon aff. steinheimensis, "Amphicyon" ?steinheimensis
Amphicyon steinheimensis - genus attrib of species uncertain species id uncertain

Situation: uncertain occurrence of unnamed species at locality Stockholm
May appear in literature as: cf. Lynx sp.1
Lynx sp. Stockholm 1 informal species species id uncertain

  • When a subspecies is listed for a taxon

Species Species At Locality
Genus Species Unique Taxonomic Status Additional Info

Situation: a subspecies is listed for the species in the literature
May appear in literature as: Amphicyon steinheimensis kurteni, Amphicyon steinheimensis arcticus, etc.
Amphicyon steinheimensis - - subspecies: kurteni

Situation: a possible subspecies is listed for the species in the literature
May appear in literature as: Amphicyon steinheimensis cf. kurteni, Amphicyon steinheimensis cf. arcticus, etc.
Amphicyon steinheimensis - - subspecies: cf. kurteni

  • When a synonymous name is listed in the literature

Species Species At Locality
Genus Species Unique Taxonomic Status Source Name

Situation: a synonymous name is listed for the species in the literature
May appear in literature as: Rhinocerus mercki, which is listed as a synonym of Stephanorhinus kirchbergensis in NOW
Stephanorhinus kirchbergensis - - Rhinocerus mercki

Links to:

Proper use of Taxonomic Fields

Notes on description of species

Notes on description of localities

Data entry practices


Reference:

McKenna, M.C. & Bell, S.K. 2000. Classification of Mammals Above the Species Level. i–xii, 16–631. Columbia University Press.