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Dr. David Lazarus

NSB: the Berlin version of the Neptune Deep-Sea Microfossil Occurrence Database

Micropaleontologic study of deep-sea sediments cored over several decades by the DSDP, ODP and IODP drilling programs has yielded a vast body of information on the occurrences of individual fossil marine plankton species over time. This information also has been combined with other types of geochronologic information by interdisciplinary teams of scientists to construct detailed age estimates - age models - for hundreds of deep-sea drilling sections. Together, this information provides a uniquely detailed history of of biologic evolution in the oceans, as well as an important source of geochronologic information for geologic studies of ocean and climate change.

The NSB database ( provides integrated access to this global data-set. It contains over 700,000 records for the occurrences of species in individual, numerically age-dated samples, age models for hundreds of deep-sea sections, and extensive, annotated, quality-controlled taxonomic lists for thousands of fossil marine plankton species, the latter in part created by earlier MfN-led projects (e.g., the IODP funded Paleontology Coordination Group effort). Neptune, or analyses from it, has been cited in ca 80 research papers, including 8 in Science, Nature or PNAS.

Neptune was originally created by a team led by me in the early 1990s at the ETH in Zürich, and re-cast in internet form, with the addition of more data, by the Chronos project of NSF in the early 2000s. In response to the lapse of Chronos and support for Neptune, I teamed up with Patrick Diver, the main Chronos database programmer, to create a new version of Neptune (Neptune Sandbox Berlin, or NSB) that is hosted at the Museum für Naturkunde. Extensive reprogramming has streamlined the system so that it is easier to maintain, and includes support for direct programmable access over the internet for advanced research purposes. This project was supported by CEES, Oslo.  The European Science Foundation/Earthtime-EU project provided funds a few years ago to further extend the database content, in particular adding extensive geochronologic data for the cored sections, and general information on marine geochronology.  In recent years, Dr. Johan Renaudie (MfN Berlin) has taken the lead in further developing the database and the website. 

NSB is a central research tool within my own group; and provides data to external scientists via the website, and by webservices (e.g. occurrence data summaries to Anyone interested in using the database can get a free account by contacting either Johan Renaudie ( or me.

Micropaleontological Reference Centers (MRC) Network

Since 1968, deep-sea drilling ships have recovered sediment cores from all the major ocean basins. This wealth of deep-sea material has yielded a unique record of biologic evolution in the form of abundant preserved skeletons of marine microfossils. These fossils are important for synthesising larger scale patterns of plankton evolution, to determine the geologic age of sediments and are key recorders of past environmental change. The Micropaleontological Reference Centers (MRCs) have been developed over a 30 year period to provide a scientific collection of this microfossil record.

Maintained by curators at over a dozen sites around the world, the Micropaleontological Reference Centers provide scientists with an opportunity to examine microfossils of various geologic ages, and from a globally distributed set of locations. The collections, with more than 20,000 samples, cover four microfossil groups—calcareous nannofossils, foraminifers, radiolarians, and diatoms—selected from sediment cores obtained from the Deep Sea Drilling Project (DSDP), the Ocean Drilling Program (ODP), and the Integrated Ocean Drilling Program (IODP). The MRCs are a source of materials for current research and are a legacy archive for deep sea drilling. The MRCs also accept selected "orphaned" collections of deep-sea microfossil materials.

The organization is supervised by a lead curator (currently me) together with the other scientists that make up the MRC network. See the MRC homepage at for more information.

WoRMS Living Polycystine Radiolarian Species List

The World Register of Marine Species project ( is a cooperative effort by hundreds of scientists to create and maintain accurate, comprehensive lists of marine organisms.  I maintain the list (currently about 400 species) for the Polycystina, the group of radiolarians that create the vast majority of siliceous, fossil forming skeletons.  The content of this list is kept in sync with the larger list including fossil forms found in NSB.