About Palaeos

The History of Palaeos

Palaeos was originally two separate projects. On the one hand there were my paleo pages originally appeared on my Kheper net site in the late 1990s. These were very incomplete, and organised along Linnaean based evolutionary systematic lines. My interest, then as now, was with bestiaries of weird and wonderful prehistoric critters and how they come together in ecological communities and dynasties that rise and fall over millions of years. I was however greatly impressed by online resources, such as the UCMP website, the Tree of Life, and the Dinosauricon.

A little later, Toby White began working on a parallel but quite different project called Vertebrate Notes, to form Palaeos.com. He was concerned less with bestiaries and more with delving into osteological and morphological minutiae and phylogenic controversies, and used a cladistic approach. Toby had been working with Fred Bervoets of the DinoData site where the vertebrate notes were briefly being hosted, before being transferred to a separate server for practical reasons.

At some point, Toby contacted me by email, as he had seen my Sauropterygia pages, one of the very few topics where I had taken the trouble to delve into osteology and proper science (albeit on a layman level), and gave these the coveted "best of the web" award. After corresponding and continuing to work on separate but parallel, overlapping, and interlinked projects, Toby and I decided to in 2002 to merge our two sites, the result being the original Palaeos.com.

After a few years, I was distracted by other projects, leaving Toby, the senior and without doubt the more talented of the two of us, as the main and basically the only author. After a while it became too much work to check and update all the links, and in 2006 the site was dropped and went off line.

I started networking and we restored the site and set up a wiki, which is still running and which was to be the replacement to the static site. However transferring everything over from html to wiki mark up was too tedious, and the wiki never replaced Palaeos.com. I occasionally updated the static web site, as did Toby. The problem came in late 2009 when I was trying to do a major upgrade of the turtles, which led to an upgrade of other groups as well, and the realisation that it was very hard to incorporate major updates, because of the linear presentation of the Vertebrate Notes and early Palaeos.com, which really form an integral unit. Then in 2010, Paleos.com once again went off the air.

The present iteration represents a major revision relative to the earlier Palaeos.com. As I now find myself in the rather dubious and unsavoury position of senior author, I decided to radically overhaul the site, making it more open-ended to allow incorporation of blog pages, pertinent Wikipedia/Wikimedia material, and other material, and reorganising the directories, to allow easier phylogenetic revision and updating. I would also like to get more people involved in contributing to the site, so that Palaeos becomes a truly collaborative venture.

The pages you see on this site are a dedication to the love of knowledge for its own sake, and a desire to present information to the world free of charge. MAK110419, MAK110902

Subject matter

The Palaeos website is organised along two themes; time, being the geological timescale, deep time, which spans not the mere centuries or millennia of world history, but millions or even billions of years, and mapping out the evolution, specifically the evolution of life on Earth; the diversity of organisms that constitute the tree of life, beginning with simple bacteria and proceeding to ever more complex forms from there, as well as the interrelations between them. There is no reason to doubt that life could also have evolved elsewhere in the cosmos, and we also explore this topic. However, most of Palaeos is devoted to a detailed consideration of the history of life on Earth. MAK110914

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