SITE VISIT

SITE VISIT: Where Past and Future Come Together

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Science  24 Jul 1998:
Vol. 281, Issue 5376, pp. 483
DOI: 10.1126/science.281.5376.483b

Although paleontologists can spend hours hunched over the bones of long-dead creatures, that hasn't stopped them from leaping into cyberspace—just take a look at the PaleoNet Web site (www.ucmp.berkeley.edu/Paleonet) and the first electronic paleojournal.

PaleoNet is both a site and an e-mail list on which some 850 subscribers swap info on everything from the latest dinosaur find to the K-T boundary, explains paleontologist Norman MacLeod of The Natural History Museum in London, who runs the two. The Web site holds a user guide and list archives; it's also a directory with hundreds of links to museums, fossil databases, bibliographies, job ads, and much more, including info organized by geologic period. Aimed at both scientists and the public, PaleoNet also hosts two art exhibits so far: dinosaur drawings and simulated photos of paleoscenes, such as mammoths looming out of a misty landscape.

Connected to PaleoNet is Palaeontologia Electronica (www-odp.tamu.edu/paleo), a digital journal that debuted last February (issue two appears in August). MacLeod, an editor, claims its 20,000 or so hits a month already rival the readership of many traditional paleojournals. No bones about it, the graphics are a real draw: Issue one features animations showing how ammonites (squidlike creatures with shells) might have gotten around, and a movie of nautiloids (ammonite ancestors) swimming in a sunny blue Paleozoic ocean.

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