Institute for Biodiversity Science and Sustainability

Searching the CAS Fossil Collection Database

  General Remarks
  Input Types on Form
    Text BoxSingle-Select List BoxMulti-Select List BoxCheck Box, Radio Buttons
  Specimen Characteristics and Identifiers
    Accession NumberInformal Name
  Taxonomic Fields
    GenusSpeciesType StatusAuthor/Date
  Collection Fields
  Display Options
    Page StyleRecord Style

General Remarks

The query form enables you to retrieve specimen records by virtually any combination of fields present in the database.

Query feedback. The query parameters entered on the form are summarized in query language at the top of every result page. Read the query statement to be sure that the query being processed is what you intended. Some browsers have a tendency to "remember" parameters from previous queries. Press the Clear button between queries to clear previously used parameters.

Number of records. The number of records retrieved by the query is reported immediately after the query feedback (near the top of the page) while the results are formatted. If the number returned is much larger than you expected or want to wait for, press the "STOP" button on your browser to cancel the query. You can create a more restrictive query by adding additional criteria to the form.

Retrieval Limit. The number of records retrieved is limited to 1,000 to prevent "excessive resource consumption" by a single user and to prevent browser crashes; large result sets can cause some computers to lock up. Note that 1,000 records can amount to more than 1.5 MBs of data.

Input Types On The Form

Text Box

a text box
A simple text box accepts a string of alpha-numeric characters and compares it against values in the database. The input string must match the entire value, unless wildcard characters are used. Wildcard characters are the percent sign (%) and the question mark (?). The percent sign matches zero to many characters, whereas the question mark matches one and only one character. For example, searching the species field with "rhino%" will match "rhinoceratus" and "rhinostoma".
Single-Select List Box

a single-select
list box
A single-select list box displays all the values that occur in the database, but allows only one value to be used in a given query. The default value, "<any>", causes the field to be ignored.

Multi-Select List Box

a multi-select
list box
A multi-select list box displays all the values that occur in the database and allows multiple values to be used in a given query. Use Ctrl-Click to toggle individual selections on and off; i.e., hold the Control key down (Windows), or the Command key (Macintosh) when you click on a value. Note, clicking a value without holding down the control key (i.e., a simple click) clears all other selections in the list box and leaves the most recently clicked value as the only selection. Note also that some browsers "remember" selected values between queries even though the selected values are not visible in (i.e., have scrolled off) the list box. Press the Clear button to clear the form.
Check Box

a check box
A check box allows a particular criterion to be turned on or off (ignored).
Radio Button

a pair of radio buttons
A radio button must have one and only one selection chosen out of two or more choices.

Specimen Characteristics and Identifiers

Accession Number
A simple text box. Accession numbers are decimal values. A single value or an inclusive range of values can be entered. Wildcards are not supported.
Informal Name
A simple text box. The informal name is the common name of a fossil, like "trilobite", "crinoid", or "dinosaur". Not all fossils have an informal name associated with them.

Taxonomic Fields

A text box. The genus name applied to a specimen. Click on a letter below to list genera that begin with the selected letter:
  A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
A text box. The specific epithet of the scientific name currently applied to the specimen. Wild cards are allowed. The taxonomy used in the database may be slightly different from usage elsewhere. For example, species named after a person may end in "i" or "ii" and are commonly inconsistent across collections. If part of the taxon name is in question, use a percent sign (%) as a wildcard, e.g. "boyl%" instead of "boylii". Click on a letter below to list species that begin with the selected letter:
  A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
Type Status
A multi-select list box.
A text box. The name of the author who first described the species and the year in which the description was published. One can enter either author, year, or both, but if searching for both, enter the author first followed by a percent sign (%) and then the year, e.g. "Arnold%1906"

Collection Fields

A multi-select list box. Country from which the fossil was collected.
State / Province / District
 A simple text box. The name of a secondary geo-political unit, typically a state or province, where the specimen was collected. If the unit-type is not a state or province, an abbreviation of the unit-type is usually appended; e.g., "Dist." for District, or "Pref." for Prefecture. A trailing wildcard (%) is automatically appended to any entered value.
A simple text box. The name of the tertiary political unit -- i.e., county, parish, district, etc -- when known. Most names in this field have an abbreviation appended indicating the type of political unit; e.g., "San Francisco Co.", "Shannan Pref.", etc. A trailing wildcard (%) is automatically appended to any entered value.
A simple text box. Geologic formation: a stratigraphic or rock unit of a specific type and age. Not all fossils in this database have a formational name associated with them. One word only with no modifiers or abbreviations. Example: Franciscan formation should be just "Franciscan".
A multi-select list box. Geologic age, as a simple one word or hyphenated name. Do not include modifiers such as early, mid, or upper.

Display Options

Page Style - Multiple Pages/Single Page
A pair of radio buttons. Choose Multiple Pages if you would like the results displayed 20 per page, one page at a time. If you would like all the results displayed on one page, choose Single Page.
Record Style - Brief Records/Full Records
A pair of radio buttons. Brief Records will display only a few fields of data for each record. Full Records will display all of the data for each record. Be warned that choosing Single Page and Full Records can take a long time to download if there are a large number of records.


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