he human environmental footprint is not only deep, but old.
Ancient traces of this footprint can be found in animal bones, shells, scales and antlers at archaeological sites. Together, these specimens tell the millennia-long story of how humans have hunted, domesticated and transported animals, altered landscapes and responded to environmental changes such as shifting temperatures and sea levels.
Now, that story is available digitally through a new open-access data platform known as ZooArchNet, which links records of animals across biological and archaeological databases. Making these specimen records accessible digitally helps provide a long-term perspective on current biodiversity crises, such as animal extinction and habitat loss, and could lead to more informed conservation policies, said Michelle LeFebvre, postdoctoral associate at the Florida Museum of Natural History and lead author of a study introducing ZooArchNet.
Seed funding for ZooArchNet was provided by the University of Florida Office of Research, the UF Informatics Institute and the Florida Museum. VertNet received initial funding from the National Science Foundation. Open Context is maintained by the Alexandria Archive Institute with data archiving and preservation services provided by the University of California. It is funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities and other sponsors.