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Recently Extinct Species Database

This is a discussion on Recently Extinct Species Database within the General Discussions forums, part of the Community Boards category; Hi guys, I started a public database of all recently extinct species of animals (plants will follow in the distant ...

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    Recently Extinct Species Database

    Hi guys, I started a public database of all recently extinct species of animals (plants will follow in the distant future) some time ago, which is open to the public. Feel free to browse the 3,500 odd species and subspecies which have become extinct in the last 100,000 years (no where near finished yet though):

    The Recently Extinct Plants and Animals Database cubit: homepage

    The actual database can be accessed here:

    The Recently Extinct Plants and Animals Database cubit: Databases

    Any comments, criticisms, questions etc. are welcome

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    "Cubit" reminded me of Noah's ark.

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    Very neat. Passing comment, it would be nice if one could search by Family (or class, order, etc...), so if I were looking for ants I could search for Formicidae rather than searching by common name. The common name search would return things like "Antloving beetle." I'm sure I'll poke around on there some more.
    MK27 likes this.

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    Registered User joybanerjee39's Avatar
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    is it possible to add pictures with the info?

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    @gratuitous

    I'm not aware of any species of ant becoming extinct within the last 100,000 years, or even within the last several hundred thousand years. However, one species was rediscovered a few years ago (Nothomyrmecia macrops), and given the twin facts that they are so overlooked and there are so many species, there very well may be.

    Unfortunately, it is not my website, I only own a single "cubit" within the larger domain so I cannot add extra search fields unfortunately. However, I do have a mirror database on my computer proper which I can search by taxonomic rank, if your after lists of certain taxa or clades.

    I still have over 1,000 scientific papers, websites and other info to sift through so it is a very long-term project, and no single database entry has been filled in to my satisfaction. In fact most are quite empty due to the paucity of accurate info. But if your after specific info for a species, or as I said above, taxa or clades, just let me know and I'll see what I can do for you
    Last edited by Branden Holmes; 01-23-2012 at 09:14 AM.
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    @Joy

    Given the fact that many of the species became extinct decades ago, we only have photos of a fraction of all recently extinct species. However, I do have about two dozen photos up of various species. If you scroll down to the bottom of the homepage you will see the latest "threads", which are actually photos that I have uploaded. Also, if you browse each database individually you will sometimes come across an entry with a thumbnail to the left of the scientific name; those entries have full-sized photos in them. Also there are many photos in this forum, which I contribute to:

    The Sixth Extinction - A forum about the current biodiversity crisis - Home
    Last edited by Branden Holmes; 01-23-2012 at 09:22 AM.

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    spurious conceit MK27's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Branden Holmes View Post
    Unfortunately, it is not my website, I only own a single "cubit" within the larger domain so I cannot add extra search fields unfortunately. However, I do have a mirror database on my computer proper which I can search by taxonomic rank
    That's a shame. It would not be that hard to implement a custom site for this so that you would not be constrained, nor would it be expensive to host (say $5-10 month) and I'm sure a lot of people would be interested in it.

    If you like that idea and don't know anyone else who'd qualify as a volunteer, send me a PM. I can't promise you that much time in the short term, but we could probably round up a couple more programmers as well. If we do a decent job, we may also be able to get hosting for free somewhere.
    C programming resources:
    GNU C Function and Macro Index -- glibc reference manual
    The C Book -- nice online learner guide
    Current ISO draft standard
    CCAN -- new CPAN like open source library repository
    3 (different) GNU debugger tutorials: #1 -- #2 -- #3
    cpwiki -- our wiki on sourceforge

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    @MK27

    I would love to eventually have a custom website for the database. However, I haven't a clue about website design. But if several programmers volunteered I certainly wouldn't turn down their services. The only problems are that the database is still quite empty, and I don't own a credit card to pay for web-hosting.

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    spurious conceit MK27's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Branden Holmes View Post
    I would love to eventually have a custom website for the database. However, I haven't a clue about website design. But if several programmers volunteered I certainly wouldn't turn down their services.
    The cubits site (in general, not just yours specifically) seems nice; some thought was put into all that (but it is probably limited by its nature, as you've observed). To improve upon it on a volunteer basis, I think you would need 2-3 programmers committed to an initial implementation, and at least 1 committed to ongoing maintenance.

    That means finding people, and analysing what you have (what features do you want to keep? what new features would you like to add initially?). Then we'd have to settle on the server-side technology to use (eg, the language, the platform, the database). Whether the people determine the technology or the technology determines the people depends on how many people are interested and what their skills are (I have a few ideas about where to find them that I'll leave out for now).

    The only problems are that the database is still quite empty, and I don't own a credit card to pay for web-hosting.
    It's good that you do have your own copy of the database; don't neglect that! I don't know how cubits works or what form of replication can be done with it. It is not that hard to take information from a db and restructure it into a new db, but of course you need the db. If you had to "screen scrape" data from your own site it would at best be a big hassle.

    Even if you decided to go ahead to today, I think it would be at least several months before you had something operable taking a responsible route. Taking an "irresponsible route", someone could throw something together by next week, but in the long run it will be worth planning and communicating first. You already have something that works fine, and your current database will be used later too (in some form) so there is no need to rush.

    Two other points:

    1) It looks to me like a lot of the material has been taken en masse from other sources. Are you doing all that manually? If so, I highly recommend considering a form of automation (this would entail analysing the source material, then coming up with a method to parse it into the database). Is there an explicit means of doing that at cubit? Eg, if it is an SQL db, can you access it to issue SQL commands directly? Even if there isn't, it's likely that it could be done via HTTP; you just have to figure out how the web interface feeds data to the server.

    2) Have you done much communication around this? Eg, if some of the people who put your sources together are still active in the field, you should contact them and let them know what you are doing, they may be interested in becoming involved, or be able to put you in touch with people that would (I see "volunteer grad students" written all over this). Programmers are only one side of the coin; you also need to sow the seeds of a contributor (and user) community. If you're at a university, I'm sure there are profs around that can point you in the right direction. You have a decent working model, the biggest issue I see is that it is not very flexible or extensible, and it is dependent on a host site that potentially will not be around as long as the database.* You just have to say that you'd like to take this to the next level if there is sufficient interest and resources.

    That all amounts to a serious commitment by you, so think about it. And as I said, don't rush it. If you do want to go those extra miles, it seems like something that could be around for decades and be used by thousands of people all over the world, so go slowly, plan, communicate and think ahead. The main consideration here is coming up with something that is easy to extend and maintain, or else it will fall apart down the road, eg, if some key person leaves the project (which will happen sooner or later).

    * that's important, but it also relates to the point that in the short term, you don't have to stress much. In the "medium term" tho, if you do want to see this have a decent legacy, you almost certainly will want an independent implementation.
    Last edited by MK27; 01-24-2012 at 08:36 AM.
    C programming resources:
    GNU C Function and Macro Index -- glibc reference manual
    The C Book -- nice online learner guide
    Current ISO draft standard
    CCAN -- new CPAN like open source library repository
    3 (different) GNU debugger tutorials: #1 -- #2 -- #3
    cpwiki -- our wiki on sourceforge

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    @MK27

    I've put too many hours into compiling the database to let it simply fade into history (a good few thousand). And I know that means starting to build a legacy for it, so that it will continue to prosper long after I'm gone. But there isn't much I can do by myself apart from compiling it.

    Virtually everything is entered manually because I'm only after very specific pieces of information, with almost of the data coming from other sources. As the database is basically a compilation of all of the knowledge humanity possesses, and accessible by anyone with an internet connection, very little is my own unique contribution (apart from doing the compiling). I didn't even complete high school, let alone go to university, so I cannot conduct original research myself unless it is based upon the sources, such as compiling bibliographies, or other theoretical stuff (e.g. analysing last confirmed survival dates etc.).

    Regarding contacting scientists, that is certainly an avenue I have thought about. However, as the database is still relatively empty, it is not quite the appropriate time to be approaching other people yet. I think they will be more inclined to help when they see that I have made a significant effort (not that I haven't, but most of the work is "behind the scenes").

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