Dinoflagellate cysts from the Cretaceous: the DUXBURY (1983) database

Search page from the DUXBURY (1983) databaseA new searchable database of type and figured dinoflagellate cysts is now available free of charge on the web site of the Micropalaeontology Division at The Natural History Museum, London. The database contains new, high quality, colour images, and confocal 3D images and video clips of the original specimens from Stan DUXBURY’s (1983) classic publication on Early Cretaceous dinoflagellate cysts of the Isle of Wight, Southern England. This is the first of a series of illustrated, searchable online databases featuring type material housed in the NHM palynology collections. This database presents an outstanding new research tool for experienced researchers, lecturers, students and all those wishing to learn about Cretaceous dinoflagellate cysts. It provides instant access to important taxonomic information and first class illustrations of the original specimens.

DUXBURY (1983) is one of the most important publications for workers in Cretaceous dinoflagellate cysts. The collection of type and figured specimens in this publication is housed in the Micropalaeontology Division and consists of over 100 slides. The publication describes 102 taxa of which 2 genera and 20 species are described as new.

Record page from the DUXBURY (1983) databaseAll of the important taxa have been re-imaged using modern digital photomicrography and are illustrated in this online database. In addition, and most importantly, many of the original specimens have been imaged using Confocal Laser Scanning Microscopy (CLSM), an innovative way for illustrating palynomorphs. CLSM can produce extended-focus images but without the time-consuming preparation required for SEM images. This technique is non invasive, so type collections can be re-imaged and re-illustrated to provide extra information for the palynologist. Three-dimensional images can also be constructed which can be viewed from different angles as animated movies.

This database includes all the original plates from the publication and augments these substantially with new digital colour images, CLSM extended focus images, red/green anaglyphs (please use red/green glasses to appreciate the 3D effect), 3D animations and animations of the image stack from the original specimens. The original diagnoses and emendations by DUXBURY (1983) are included for each taxon with added notes inferring subsequent changes in taxonomy.

The database allows greater access to this collection while conserving the condition of the original specimens. It has been developed mainly as an aid for palynologists who seek unbiased taxonomic information on the type material. This kind of database also represents an excellent research tool in its own right by providing images and taxonomic information via an easy-to-use interface on the Internet. Its full potential is reached when used in conjunction with other databases (e.g. the web-browser-based database DINOFLAJ) so that all the important taxonomic and image information are readily available on one computer screen. In addition to the role as a specialists’ application, the online database serves as a resource for educators developing and teaching courses in palynology and for students interested in Cretaceous dinoflagellate cysts.

The DUXBURY (1983) database of Early Cretaceous dinoflagellate cysts is the first of a planned series of illustrated, searchable, online databases featuring type material housed in the NHM palynology collections. Work has started on the type material of DUXBURY (1977) and (1980), thus completing the series on Lower Cretaceous dinoflagellate cysts. Next in the pipeline are the superb collections of Tertiary dinoflagellate cysts from the classic publications of EATON (1971, 1976), BUJAK (1976, 1979) and BUJAK et al. (1980).

Susanne Feist-Burkhardt
Andrew S. Henderson
Iona McLachlan
John E. Williams
(The Natural History Museum, London)

References cited:

  • Details of Florentinia abjuncta

    BUJAK, J.P. (1976): An evolutionary series of Late Eocene dinoflagellate cysts from southern England. Marine Micropaleontology, v. 1, p. 101-117, pl. 1-4.
  • BUJAK, J.P. (1979): Proposed phylogeny of the dinoflagellates Rhombodinium and Gochtodinium. Micropaleontology, v. 25, no. 3, p. 308-324, pl. 1-3.
  • BUJAK, J.P., DOWNIE, C., EATON, G.L. and WILLIAMS, G.L. (1980): Dinoflagellate cysts and acritarchs from the Eocene of southern England. Special Papers in Palaeontology, no. 24, 100 p., pl. 1-22.
  • DUXBURY, S. (1977): A palynostratigraphy of the Berriasian to Barremian of the Speeton Clay of Speeton, England. Palaeontographica, Abteilung B, v. 160, no. 1-3, p. 17-67, pl. 1-15.
  • DUXBURY, S. (1980): Barremian phytoplankton from Speeton, east Yorkshire. Palaeontographica, Abteilung B, v. 173, no. 4-6, p. 107-146, pl. 1-13.
  • DUXBURY, S. (1983): A study of dinoflagellate cysts and acritarchs from the Lower Greensand (Aptian to Lower Albian) of the Isle of Wight, southern England. Palaeontographica, Abteilung B, v. 186, no. 1-3, p. 18-80, pl. 1-10.
  • EATON, G.L. (1971): A morphogenetic series of dinoflagellate cysts from the Bracklesham Beds of the Isle of Wight, Hampshire, England. In: FARINACCI, A. (editor), Proceedings of the 2nd Planktonic Conference, Rome, 1970, p. 355-379, pl. 1-4; Edizioni Tecnoscienza, Rome.
  • EATON, G.L. (1976): Dinoflagellate cysts from the Bracklesham Beds (Eocene) of the Isle of Wight, southern England. British Museum (Natural History) Geology, Bulletin, v. 26, p. 227-332, pl. 1-21.

The Natural History Museum is interested in increasing their collections and providing the best possible accessibility, i.e. by developing web-based catalogues and databases and exploring the possibilities of the Internet. We therefore encourage all colleagues to consider deposition of type and figured palynological specimens in the Micropalaeontology Division at the NHM. If you would like further information, please contact Susanne Feist-Burkhardt or Andrew Henderson.

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