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It is hard to provide an overview for a project as huge and rambling as Palaeos, so this page only some of the more basic categories and starting pages.
There are basically two orientations that can be taken here. One is to follow the sequence of Time, the other Evolution.
From the paleontological perspective of Palaeos, time is presented as the geological timescale, and life as the the evolutionary tree of life on Earth. These two pages can serve as starting points, from which other related and interrelated pages and topics can be explored. On the basis of the geological timescale there are seven major timescale units (eras and eons). Although in the above diagram there are seven major evolutionary categories (others have proposed similar or different classifications), as far as life on Earth goes we have arbitrarily divided our coverage into six main units (kingdoms and domains of life). Allowing for the unevenness of coverage, Palaeos can be summarised as follows:
Time, or more specifically the geological time-scale is here used to define the major stages in the history of life on Earth. Here the four and a half billion year history of planet Earth is divided into seven segments, although once again this is semi-informal classification, mixing eons and eras. These are:
Cosmic evolution includes everything from the Big Bang to the formation of galaxies and stars (which set the stage for the formation of the Solar System and the Earth (which goes under "Chaotian" and "Hadean" respectively) and to the evolution of minerals, the Earth, life, and mind. Most of these topics are very incomplete, nor is there currently any intention to describe them at length, as the focus of Palaeos is exploring the history and genealogy of life on Earth through time. Although the number and details of kingdoms of life differ, we have decided as far as main categories go to follow by default an informal approach that broadly follows the The Five Kingdom paradigm of Robert Whittaker and Lynn Margulis. Adding the now pretty much meaningless (in terms of modern systematics) 19th Century distinction of vertebrates and invertebrates gives the following six categories:
Finally there are a number of additional pages. Because the science featured in Palaeos doesn't come from nowhere, Scientists features a very incomplete alphabetical listing of (short biographies, along with occasional links) of paleontologists and other scientists who over the centuries have constructed, and continue to construct, the vast edifice of knowledge of the history of life on Earth (and related topics), whilst a timeline traces both the history of discoveries and their interplay with popular culture. Resources will, eventually, hopefully, include a directory of links to other paleo web sites and blogs, useful books, journals, and so on. Authors will give a very brief listing of contributers to Palaeos.
In keeping with Toby's original Vertebrate Notes, Palaeos has a somewhat modular structure, being divided into "units". Therefore. in addition to the dual hierarchy of time and life, an attempt has been made to retain the modular and hierarchical approach here. Unfortunately it hasn't worked out as tidily as we would have liked, because each subject has so many ramifications and links to other topics in other hierarchies and units. Ideally, units are divided into pages, and also may have daughter units, which may in turn have subunits, and so on with maddening detail. The menu bars at the top and bottom of each page (including this one) present navigation options such as Page Back and Page Next, and Unit Up, Unit Down, Unit Back, Unit Next, and Unit Home. Page Back, Page Next, and Unit Home allow you to navigate "horizontally" (at the same hierarchical level) within the unit, and Unit Back and Unit Next between units of the same level. This may be through either similar or different (alternating life and time, e.g. Archean – Bacteria – Proterozoic – Eukarya – Paleozoic) units, or both. So on the Eukarya (or Eucarya) index page, Unit Back in the similar series goes to Bacteria and Unit Next to Plants, these all being on the same level. Whereas dissimilar (alternating) goes from Eukarya back to Proterozoic (when eukaryotes emerged and diversified) and next to Paleozoic (when they flourished beginning with the Cambrian explosion). As for the vertical button (which is always similar), Unit Up goes to the larger unit that includes Eukarya, which is Tellurobiota (Life on Earth). As with Unit Up, Unit Down navigate "vertically". Since each higher level unit will generally have several daughter units, Unit Down only goes to the first of these (according an arbitrary or non-arbitrary arrangement) after which Unit Next goes to the next unit in the group. So with for example the Palaeozoic index page, Unit Down goes to the Cambrian index page (the Cambrian being the first period of the Paleozoic era), and you need to click on Unit Next for the Ordovician (the next geological period in the sequence). Sometimes page and unit categories are the same, so on the page that follows the Unit index/home page, Page Back and Unit Home are the same, in which case there's some duplication, which is allowed for the sake of consistency of menu boxes. With the last page (usually a references page) of a unit, Page Next goes to the first page of the next unit, although Unit Next goes to the similar page of the next unit (in this case the corresponding references page). Sometimes the units and pages are linked in a logical series, for example the sequence of the geological timescale, or the standard series of organisms in biology books (prokaryotes (bacteria), eukaryotes, plants, fungi, animals) or other phylogenetic listings. At other times the listing is more arbitrary. In addition to the usual Unit Next and Page Next listing, there may be additional links to non-standard pages such as glossaries and notes.
In addition to the main menu bars at the top of the page, there is an abbreviated navigation bar at the bottom, and a listing of sub-topics and related topics under the main navigation bar.
Because of the scale of the task, it is likely that many menu links may not follow the right order. In such cases, please contact me (see email address at bottom of this page)
Palaeos includes several different types of pages, which together make up a Unit (although different units may include different types of pages).
Each unit starts with an index or home page. This may give a brief overview or a detailed introduction, depending on the idiosyncrasy of the author and topic. Eventually there will be more standardisation here, with the detailed intro being moved to an overview page.
Ordinary pages, such as this one, generally have a white background (apart from the geological timescale pages and some of the taxonomic pages). They follow after the index/home page of the unit.
Major Units may include a Glossary page or pages. These constitute an abbreviated coverage of each topic. Glossary listings will point to other listings, and where "more" appears it is to the main page on the topic. Sometimes there is also an external link or links, which are indicated as such
After the glossary page (if present) there is, in the case of the units on each of the groups of organisms, a Dendrogram (phylogenetic tree or, colloquially "cladogram") page. This has a green background (symbolising the tree of life). Here the Page Back, Page Next, and Unit Home, refer to navigation within the dendrogram page's Unit; i.e. to a non-dendrogram page, whereas Unit Back, Unit Next, and Unit Up will take you to the corresponding dendrograms (evolutionary trees) for those Units. The only time Unit Home points to a dendrogram page is when it points back to the dendrogram index pages .
The Reference pages is, you guessed it, for the references for each unit. As with dendrogram menus, Unit Back, Unit Next, and Unit Up will take you to the corresponding reference pages of those Units. The reference page is always at the end of a unit, so Page Next on a reference page always points to the Index page of the next unit.
Lists, of taxa or whatever, may be included as distinct pages or as part of the index/home page. So far there are not many of these due to the incompleteness of Palaeos and the usefulness of Google search. Notes, and Pieces are miscellaneous pages that don't fit in the above categories.
Currently the new Palaeos is still a work in progress, so if you would like to suggest or contribute material, please contact the editors at the email addresses provided below.
page last modified MAK110902, MAK110914, edited RFVS111214
Google search box courtesy of Ask Dave Taylor