The Vertebrate World

Eric L. Peters elpeters at
Sun Jan 3 02:30:43 EST 1993

The Vertebrate World is a HyperCard stack that is designed to be a 
database shell for the vertebrate animals.  The database as planned will 
eventually provide taxonomic, ecological, behavioral and distribution 
information for thousands of species of vertebrates. Digitized pictures 
of each species will be available, as well as phylogenetic trees, 
sounds, QuickTime movies, and range maps for many species.  This will 
(obviously) require storage and distribution on large capacity medium 
such as CD-ROM discs.  Because of the size of the database, and the 
relative scarcity of CD-ROM drives, my plan is to allow this database to 
be customizable by individual instructors by creating a 'master control' 
stack.  The instructor can use this front end to choose particular 
species for inclusion into self-running subsets of the entire database.  
These can then be run from a hard disk drive.  For example, an 
instructor might select individual species, or make inclusion criteria 
for species that correspond to specified search terms, such as 'Birds of 
North Carolina' or 'Endangered Vertebrates of North America'.  The 
master control would then automatically generate a new HyperCard stack 
containing those species' entries, and this user-generated stack could 
then be distributed to students or copied onto hard drives in a 
microcomputer lab.  Various template stacks that automatically include 
only information appropriate for use at particular education levels will 
be provided, and these will be modifiable by the instructor.
As there are so many species of vertebrates, I would like to 'job out' 
different segments of the project to different people. The Vertebrate 
World Project will have several areas of potential contributions: 
writing and editing the species accounts, constructing phylogenetic data 
files, and locating and digitizing pictures, videos and sounds. For 
example, one person might be in charge of writing the accounts of the 
pinnepeds, another might collect and/or scan pictures of Australian 
snakes, etc.
In return for these efforts, each person contributing a certain amount 
of effort would obtain a copy of the finished product of their choice 
(i.e., one disk from the series), as well as acknowledgement in the 
documentation. Persons contributing a large amount of digitized or 
(especially) original written material would be listed as co-authors of 
the overall project.
I believe this is the best approach for us to take because it places the 
responsibility for the stacks' contents in the hands of experts in each 
taxon, and it prevents duplication of effort.  I also think it would be 
most worthwhile to be able to offer a complete set (perhaps on several 
disks according to Class, with the possibilty of doing it by 
subscription as new species are added).  I think that this series would 
be an excellent marketing tool for a publisher to convince instructors 
to buy textbooks on ecology or vertebrate biology. Finally, we would 
have the benefit of not doing all of the 'grunt work' ourselves. The 
details of this are not yet fixed, but will be avalable from this site 
There are obviously a lot of refinements that can be made, and I hope 
you will feel free to offer suggestions.  For example, I would like the 
information listings to behave in a hypertext fashion, and I have 
ncluded some example for non-linear access within the stack.  For 
example, the description fields are set up so that clicking on the name 
of the family takes you to another genus in that family. Clicking on 
highlighted text in the species accounts takes you to  species entry of 
ecological significance to that species (e.g., a predator), and so on.
To save space in the Internet archives, and because the programming effort 
is ongoing, I am making a prototype version of The Vertebrate World 
available for anonymous FTP access from my computer, (  Please note that this is a work 
in progress, not a completed version:  not all the species accounts are 
complete and there are likely to be bugs (part of the reason the program 
is being made available is to identify problems with different Mac 
configurations-please download and read the file 'Read Me Now Or Regret It 
Later').  If you are interested in being added to the mailing list for the 
project (but not necessarily contributing), please be sure to download, 
fill out, and return the 'Registration Form' file.  If you have any bug 
reports, please download, fill out, and return the 'Bug Report Form' file. 
If you have any other comments, please contact me at the address below.
Thanks very much for your interest in 'The Vertebrate World'.
************************************************************************** * 
Eric L. Peters                 "Radiation. Yes, indeed!  You hear the  * * 
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telling	*
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