The Keys to the (Animal) Kingdom: Zoological Record Turns 150

September 2014

A year that has already seen the 50th anniversary of the Science Citation Index has produced yet another milestone:  Zoological Record, the oldest continuing bibliographic database in the life sciences and a key component in Thomson Reuters Web of Science, observes 150 years since its founding .

Over its century and a half, Zoological Record has recorded nearly 1.2 million animal species—living as well as fossil—and is acknowledged as the primary, if unofficial, repository of animal names covering the entire animal kingdom.

In 1864, a group of scientists affiliated with the Zoological Society of London and the British Museum, including Charles Darwin and Albert Günther, founded Zoological Record to consolidate and share their research on the identification and classification of species. As others in the scientific community used this early database, its content expanded, ultimately revolutionizing the life sciences by driving the advancement of systematic zoology and research on biodiversity.

After nearly a century under the auspices of the Zoological Society of London, publication of Zoological Record was undertaken in 1980 as a partnership between the Society and BioSciences Information Services of Biological Abstracts (BIOSIS). Today, BIOSIS, now part of Thomson Reuters, is the sole publisher. BIOSIS increased the content and, beginning in 1978, added computerization, making issues available in both print and electronic format.

Over the years, Zoological Record has continued to expand and adapt to the needs of its researchers. Today, as part of the Web of Science, the now-digitized Zoological Record directly connects to a vast network of people, organizations, countries, and documents, providing billions of connections and documenting the evolution of science the 19th century.

Digitizing the century-old contents of Zoological Record presented a challenge. Specialists at the Thomson Reuters production facility in York, UK, confronted numerous changes that were made across the decades in the publication’s size, format, and editorial practices. The print volumes’ separate sections devoted to different taxonomic groups (birds, insects, fish, etc.) added to the complexity. With expertise honed by work on the Century of Science project, in which the contents of the Web of Science Core Collection were extended to cover publications back to 1900, the specialists were able to carry out the scanning of the older material, thereby bringing the rich history and abiding utility of Zoological Record into the digital age.

Today, Zoological Record serves the needs not only of those pursuing advances in zoology, taxonomy, and biodiversity, but also of researchers studying the environment and such pressing matters as global warming and energy conservation. Thus, well along in its second century, Zoological Record serves as a record of life on Earth while also contributing to the effort to preserve it.

For more information on Zoological Record and its 150th anniversary, including an interactive timeline of historical milestones and other highlights, please click here.

The data and citation records included in this report are from Thomson Reuters Web of ScienceTM. Web of ScienceTM is a registered trademark of Thomson Reuters. All rights reserved.