CBDG Fossil Vocabulary

The CBDG Fossil Keyword Vocabulary was prepared in order to efficiently search for palaeontological data in the Central Geological Database of PGI–NRI. It is used in the subsystems CBDG Archival Reports, Boreholes and Geological Collections. The Vocabulary was developed by dr hab. Marcin Machalski (Institute of Paleobiology, Polish Academy of Sciences), in cooperation with Ewa Machalska (PGI-NRI). NOTE - Only in Polish.

Browse the Vocabulary

Vocabulary can be viewed in two ways: alphabetically or hierarchically

Building the Vocabulary

The Vocabulary is hierarchical. At the top of the hierarchy are the names of three thematic sections: "Structural Fossils", "Trace Fossils" and "General Terms".

The section "Structural fossils" has a hierarchical structure, based on a simplified systematics of the living world (see below: "Used systematics of the living world"). The basic framework of this part of the Vocabulary are Latin systematic terms (e.g. "Mollusca"), accompanied by Polish and / or Latin synonyms (eg "molluscs", "Lamellibranchiata"). The "Structural Fossils" section also includes descriptive terms (eg "cephalopod hooks") assigned to the appropriate systematic categories.

Keywords in the "General Terms" section generally appear as an alphabetical list. Only selected entries are accompanied by sub-entries (eg "disputes" are divided into "microspores" and "macrospores").

The "Trace Fossils" section has a mixed structure - sub-terms are associated with more general alphabetical terms.

Used systematics of the living world

The absolute priority in the construction of the scheme of the systematics of the living world used in this Vocabulary were practical considerations, mainly legibility and ease of use. The individual keywords were selected on the basis of the analysis of palaeontological documentation included in the descriptions of geological profiles in the series Profiles of deep boreholes of PGI–NRI and on the basis of a random analysis of contemporary geological and palaeontological literature. The main reasons for including a given term in the Vocabulary were:

  1. great importance in the systematics of the living world;
  2. common occurrence in archival studies,
  3. the degree of practical knowledge of a given term among Polish geologists and palaeontologists who are not specialists in a given group of organisms.

The latter criterion was considered particularly important, as it enables easy orientation and efficient navigation through the Vocabulary by non-specialists.

Systematic terms selected in accordance with the above principles, ranging from superregnum to genus - form the scheme for the classification of organisms in the "Structural fossils" section. This diagram was constructed arbitrarily on the basis of literature data (see the bibliography cited below). There is no generally accepted classification of organisms, and its individual proposals published by various authors or research teams (see bibliography below) show large differences (cf. Dzik 2003, p. 457).

At the supra-genus level, the adopted scheme is definitely outdated in comparison with the classification schemes of the organic world proposed in recent years. These are largely based on genetic and cladistic research (eg Clarkson 1993, Benton 2005). This diagram rather refers - although with exceptions - to the traditional systematics presented in the subsequent volumes of the series Atlas of index and characteristic fossils, published as part of the monumental series Geological Structure of Poland. It is on the basis of the Atlas that many palaeontological specimens of the PGI Museum have been classified and the data have been included in numerous archival studies of the PGI.

The use of one of the most modern taxonomic systems would make it difficult for people entering the data to link many keywords to the documentation and would require the vocabulary administrator to provide permanent substantive consultations with palaeontologists dealing with very narrow taxonomic groups (it is difficult to imagine that the vocabulary administrator would adjust archival data to the current state of knowledge). The systematic scheme includes only a few of the most important achievements of modern science, e.g. introducing the division of the organic world into five kingdoms or classifying conodonts as vertebrates (see explanations of the relevant keywords in the vocabulary).

Some keywords from the "Structural Fossils" section may be difficult for less advanced users of the database. To remedy this, they have been annotated with basic information on their status in line with traditional and modern proposals for dividing the living world. For technical reasons, these comments are limited in size. Users wishing to expand their knowledge can use the specialist literature cited in the comments on specific taxonomic terms, or the manuals and monographic series cited below.

The applied criteria for the selection of keywords make the scheme of the systematics of the living world proposed for the purposes of this Vocabulary extremely simplified, selective and incomplete, but adapted to the level of knowledge on which most of the PGI's archival studies were based. For the same reasons, it is also easy to use by non-specialists, who are the vast majority of CBDG users. On the other hand, the traditional systematic terms used in the Vocabulary are understandable to any skilled person. For example, despite the existence of a number of competing bivalve classification systems (reviewed in Schneider 2001), any specialist in this group will understand the range of taxonomic units from the traditional Newell (1965) subdivision on which paleontologists have relied for decades.

In order to obtain greater clarity in the construction of the systematic scheme, its formal hierarchy based on the categories of zoological and botanical systematics was abandoned. This is due to the diversity of world literature, e.g. what is a order for one researcher, a class for another.

The quotation marks represent informal terms with traditional meanings, but firmly established by users and therefore convenient to use ("Algae", Pisces ").

The Vocabulary is open, which allows for its further expansion. New passwords are entered only by the person administering the Vocabulary or by another PGI–NRI employee trained for this purpose. Any comments on the structure and content of the Vocabulary, as well as the need to add new entries, can be reported to ewa.machalska@pgi.gov.pl, or by phone 0 22 849-53-51 ext. 212.


  • Benton, M.J. (ed). 1993. The fossil record 2. 845 pp. Chapman & Hall, London.
  • Benton, M.J. 2005. Vertebrate Palaeontology, Third Edition. Blackwell Publishing.
  • Bieda F. 1966. Paleozoologia. T. 1 i T. 2. Wyd. Geol. Warszawa.
  • Boardman, R.S., Cheetham, A.H., Rowell, A.J. (eds). Fossil Invertebrates, Blackwell Scientific Publications.
  • Clarkson, E.N.K. 1993. Invertebrate Palaeontology and Evolution, Fourth Edition. Chapman & Hall,.
  • Dzik, J. 2003. Dziej życia na Ziemi. PWN, Warszawa.
  • Jachowicz A., Dybowa-Jachowicz S. 1994. Paleobotanika. Wyd. Uniw. Śl. Katowice
  • Lehmann U., Hillmer G. 1991. Bezkręgowce kopalne. Wyd. Geol. Warszawa.
  • Malinowska L. 1979-2003. Budowa Geologiczna Polski. Tom. III. Atlas skamieniałości przewodnich i charakterystycznych. Wyd. Geol. Warszawa, PIG i Ministwrstwo Środowiska Warszawa, Polska Agencja Ekologiczna, Warszawa.
  • Margulis, L., K.V. Schwartz, and M. Dolan. 1994. The Illustrated Five Kingdoms: A Guide To The Diversity Of Life On Earth. Harper Collins College Publishers, New York. Patrz także http://waynesword.palomar.edu/trfeb98.htm
  • Moore, R.C. and Teichert, C. (eds). Od 1953. Treatise on Invertebrate Paleontology. Geological Society of America and the University of Kansas Press, Lawrence, Kansas. http://www.paleo.ku.edu/
  • Newell, N.D. 1965. Classification of the Bivalvia. American Museum Novitates 2206, 1-25.
  • Parker, S.P. (ed) 1982. Synopsis and Classification of Living Organisms. Vol. 1. 1166pp, Vol. 2, 1232 pp. McGraw-Hill Inc., New York.
  • Profile głębokich otworów wiertniczych Instytutu Geologicznego. 1972-1986. Zeszyty 1-63. Wydawnictwa Geologiczne.
  • Profile głębokich otworów wiertniczych Państwowego Instytutu Geologicznego. 1988-2003. Zeszyty 64-102. Wydawnictwa Geologiczne.
  • Schneider, J.A. 2001. Bivalve systematics during the 20th century. Journal of Paleontology 75, 1119-1127.
  • Woese, C.R. Kandler, O., Wheelis, M.L. 1990. Towards a natural system of organisms. Proposal for the domains Archaea, Bacteria, and Eucarya. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA, 87, 4576-4579.
  • Ziegler, B. Einführung in die Paläobiologie, Teil. 1. 1972. Allgemaine Paläontologie. Teil. 2. 1983. Spezielle Paläontologie, Protisten, Spongien und Coelenteraten; Teil. 3. 1998. Spezielle Paläontologie, Würmer, Arthropoden, Lophophoraten. E. Schweizerbart’sche Verlagsbuchhandlung. Stuttgart