PETALURA vol. 2, 1996


SANTANA 1.0 for Windows: Volume #1: The insects and spiders of the Santana Formation, Lower Cretaceous in Brazil.
Published by digital-fossil in cooperation with the National Science Museum Tokyo

This CD-ROM is available from digital-fossil, D-67734 Sulzbachtal, Germany, phone: (++ 49) 63 08 - 79 14 or (++ 49) 22 25 - 1 68 79, fax: (++ 49) 63 08 - 78 21 or (++ 49) 228 - 43 28 32

System performance requirements: DOS 3.1 or higher, or Windows version 3.1, WfW 3.11 or Windows 95; 6 MB RAM required, ( MB RAM recommended; CD-ROM drive, double speed recommended; quick resolution (SVGA) graphic card recommended; 2 MB free disk space (Macintosh™ users should be able to use the CD-ROM with the emulator Insignia SoftWindows™)

SANTANA 1.0 is a Windows compatible CD-ROM including a database-file with 1000 pictures of fossil insects and spiders of the Santana-Formation in Brazil. The menus and texts are in english language. This paleoentomological CD-ROM is the first available title of a projected series of CD-ROM's on the fossils of the Santana formation by digital-fossil (a CD-ROM on the plant fossils is meanwhile available too). The amazing pictures of scorpions, spiders, mayflies, dragonflies, cockroaches, termites, crickets, grasshoppers, cicadas, bugs, lacewings, snake-flies, beetles, sawflies, bees and wasps, mosquitoes and flies, and even butterflies, plus numerous larvae of mayflies and dragonflies etc., gives a beautiful introduction to the rich biocoenosis and thanatocoenosis of the Lower Cretaceous lagoons of Ceara in Brazil. Furthermore the CD-ROM contains a large bibliography which is the result of a recent search in the data banks of GEOLINE™ and GEOREF™, including publications on the Santana-formation in Brazil as well as general publications on fossil insects from the Carboniferous to the Tertiary. The pictures are stored in a reasonable quality as bitmaps (BMP) with a resolution of 600*400 pixel and 256 colours. To each picture there is an attached ASCII-memo-file, which includes editable informations about the illustrated specimen. All pictures have an ID-number that allows a quick search for a specific picture. Furthermore the CD-ROM includes informations about the geology of the Santana-formation, with graphics of geological profiles and colour photos of the fossil localities and outcrops. All specimens are provided with a scale and have been preliminarily determined by a professional paleoentomologist at least to the order level, often till family level or even to the species (especially in Odonata). Remarkably more than 75% of the shown specimens are still unknown to science an attend their description as new species. The complete collection is now deposited in the National Science Museum in Tokyo (Japan).

The illustrated dragonflies include a specimen of Parahemiphlebia cretacica with preservation of the metallic green body colour, a curious new dragonfly which seems to belong to a new libelluloid family, a new aeshnid species, the first specimen of Gomphaeschnaoides obliqua with preserved fore wings (clearly confirming its aeshnid affinities), and gigantic dragonfly larvae with forcep-like cerci. Outstanding specimens are not only the dragonflies, but also the Planipennia (incl. Myrmeleontidae, Psychopsidae, Chrysopidae and apparently even the first neotropical Nemeopteridae), Raphidioptera (several very nice specimens), Ephemeroptera (e.g. the first records of larvae of two families), Saltatoria, Blattodea and Heteroptera (e.g. including Notonectidae, Naucoridae, Hydrometridae etc.).

The fossils were directly scanned with a flatbed scanner, therefore the quality of the pictures of small fossils is somewhat lower than that of the larger specimens. The only other shortcomings are the absence of a search routine for keywords, the lack of a possibility to export the picture files, and some minor faults, like some double pictures and a few pictures with incorrect scale (e.g. no. 143). The installation is easy and well explained in the enclosed readme-text.

This unique CD-ROM can only be strongly recommended to every paleoentomologist and everybody who is generally interested in fossil insects!

For a screenshot see fig. 1.

Biologie und Ökologie der Insekten. Ein Lexikon auf CD-ROM mit 1201 Zeichnungen, 1001 Farbbildern sowie Videos und Tonsequenzen. Begründet von Werner Jacobs und Maximilian Renner, fortgeführt von Klaus Honomichl und Heiko Bellmann. - Gustav Fischer Verlag, Stuttgart, 1996; price: DM 98,-

This CD-ROM is available from Gustav Fischer Verlag, Wollgrasweg 49, D-70599 Stuttgart (Hohenheim), Germany

System performance requirements: MS-Windows™ vers. 3.x or Windows95™; PC 386 or higher with 4 MB RAM; 5 MB free disk space; VGA graphic card with 256 colours or True Color; soundcard; CD-ROM-drive; MS-compatible mouse or similar (Macintosh™ users might be able to use the CD-ROM with the emulator Insignia SoftWindows™)

This CD-ROM in German language is a multimedial version of the famous standard text-book "Biologie und Ökologie der Insekten" by JACOBS & RENNER. The book has been completely revised and amended by K. HONOMICHL and H. BELLMANN. The complete text and all illustrations of the third edition of this book, which will not be available before fall 1997, are present on the CD-ROM version too. Under the name of a order or family one can find detailed informations about the biology and ecology of the taxon and its more common species. Additional to the 1201 black & white graphics of the book version, there are 1001 colour photos (BMP), 15 videos (AVI) and 23 sounds (WAV). A major advantage of the CD-ROM is the availability of sophisticated full-text search algorithms. The CD also includes an online-help, a revised bibliography (unfortunately with less references than the previous book edition), a list of abbreviations, an introduction and a catalogue of related publications of the same publisher.

Like the corresponding book this CD-ROM is focussing on the european entomofauna. Therefore a search for keywords like Petaluridae will be doomed to fail. The only major point of critic is the fact that every click on a hyperlink opens a new window, so that the desktop is crowded with windows after a short time of using the program. A second shortcoming is the somewhat poor quality of some of the scanned black & white graphics, compared to the excellent quality of the original illustrations in the book version. One should also keep in mind that this CD-ROM can not and should not replace the book version. A quick look for a certain keyword is normally faster with the book and the CD-ROM can hardly be used on a field trip or on the sofa, even if you should have a multimedia laptop computer. On the other hand the book can not offer the possibilities of a full-text search or the multimedial presentation. For future versions of this CD-ROM it would be helpful to include an illustrated glossary of insect morphology, some informations concerning insect phylogeny (e.g. lists of the most important synapomorphies of the major monophyla), some brief informations on the non-european families, and maybe some more videos (e.g. to illustrate the "bee-language"). There would be sufficient space for all these extensions on the CD-ROM if the 1001 colour pictures that are currently saved as bitmaps with ca. 305 KB each, would be saved in JPEG-format, which would reduced the size to ca. 25 KB each, without any visible loss of quality (tested on several pictures by the author of this review). An english translation of this important work would be highly desirable, since it deserves a much wider distribution than it might probably become, due to the language restriction.

This CD-ROM is definitely not one of those edutainment titles, but the first multimedia application for entomologists on a truely professional level. Therefore it deserves a place in the CD-collection of every entomologist who has the necessary hardware and is able to read German!

For a screenshot see fig. 2.

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