Friday, December 21, 2012

New BLE topic "Poisonous Nature", with a special Christmas highlight: European Mistletoe (Viscum album)

It is Friday, time for the Spice of the week, but we have something special for you today. We would like to introduce a new BLE topic describing various poisonous species from different parts of the world – Poisonous Nature.
BLE - Poisonous Nature

You can find more than 30 species belonging to different groups, which you may not have had any idea could be poisonous. More species will be added regularly in the future, and we will inform you about each of them. The images and illustrations link to their variable sources: BHLEOL or Europeana (including content from the OpenUp! project). This new topic also includes more than 90 books describing the species in more detail.
Mistletoe in crown of tree - EOL.

Here is the first highlight from Poisonous Nature, one of the symbols of Christmas, which brings fortune and blessing to your homes – European Mistletoe (Viscum album). Did you know that mistletoe contains the poison lectin, which strengthens the body's immune reaction against cancer and even slows tumor growth?
European Mistletoe - Viscum album - BHL.

Mistletoe is an angiosperm, living as a hemi-parasite on other plants. It uses its special root-like organs (haustoria) to steal nutrients, water and minerals from its host. As opposed to true parasites, it also uses photosynthesis to create its own organic substances. There is only one species of mistletoe in Europe: European or Common Mistletoe (Viscum album). It can grow on deciduous or coniferous trees, dependent on the subspecies. The poisonous qualities of mistletoe have not been conclusively proven; only larger quantities are known to cause diarrhea and stomachaches. Only in nursing infants can poisoning have more severe consequences.
European Mistletoe - Viscum album - image is under CC-BY-SA, from The Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh -  OpenUp! content on Europena.

You can find more about the mistletoe on BLE PoisonousNature. We wish you great Christmas Holidays and of course, stay tuned!!

Friday, December 14, 2012

Content Highlights - Geography cone – a poisonous snail

Our new content highlight comes from the collections of invertebrates and represents a large group named 'gastropods'. Did you know that Conus geographus has a poisonous stinger? It is located on the tip of a long, extensible tentacle, which can reach up to three-quarters of the length of the shell.

Conus geographus is a type of sea snail, found among coral reefs in the Indo-Pacific Ocean, and in the Red Sea. Its shell is wide, thin-walled and barrel-shaped. The mouth of the shell is long and relatively thin, only in the lower part is it markedly wider. Color is a characteristic irregular white with brown spots. The shells of Conus geographus have always been prized for their beauty, and are of interest to collectors. The geography cone is a predator, even capable of catching fish.

It is one of the few snails that can be dangerous to humans. The geography cone, like other cones, attacks its prey by using an extensible tentacle, tipped with a poisonous sting. The stinger is shaped like a hollow harpoon, even possessing rear-facing spines. Its venom is strongly neurotoxic, causing muscle paralysis, accompanied by pain, nausea, vomiting and abdominal colic. More severe cases display accelerated pulse, double vision, vocal paralysis and uncoordinated movements. There is no antidote for cone venom; treatment consists solely of trying to keep the victim alive until the poison wears off.
The geography cone starts off our new series, which will introduce more than thirty poisonous species from different taxonomic groups and parts of the world. If you are interested in learning more about poisonous nature, stay tuned to us. We will have a surprise for you at the beginning of next week!

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

3rd OpenUp! Newsletter

We are pleased to inform you that the 3rd OpenUp! Newsletter was published today. The 20 pages of this issue are full of interesting articles and news of the project from previous half-year.

Front page

Briefly, this 3rd issue includes articles about our dissemination activities, OpenUp! content on Europeana and its actual status, and for the techies in the audience, we included the actual OpenUp! technical workflow. The last six months were full of conferences, and of course we presented our project at every opportunity.

In this issue we also explain the improvement of our Virtual Exhibition platform BLE, which was promoted in Beijing this fall. There is also a short preview of the new topic we are currently preparing, "Poisonous Nature", which will be released on December 17th, and you will be informed in detail about this event.

Check out the newsletter online on the OpenUp! website.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Content Highlights - Aulacopleura konincki – social trilobite?

Did you know that some trilobites may have lived similarly to social insects?
Aulacopleura konicki juvenile specimen. Coll. NM Prague. CC-BY-ND.
Aulacopleura konicki adult specimen. Coll. NM Prague. CC-BY-ND.

Trilobites were one of the most significant inhabitants of the Paleozoic oceans and today rank among the most popular fossils ever. Their abundance allows us to conduct detailed investigations of their morphology, lifestyle and evolutionary history.
Aulacopleura konicky juvenile specimen on Europeana portal. 

One of the plentiful species is Aulacopleura konincki, found in Silurian (444-416 million years ago) rocks of the Czech Republic, not far from Prague. Aulacopleura konincki ranks among the smaller trilobites, with a body length of 1-3 cm, and lived on slopes of oceanic volcanic islands. Occasionally, individuals of the species were buried by volcanic ash on the shallow see bottom, and so today we can find entire groups of their bodies preserved in geological layers. Consequently, Aulacopleura konincki is often displayed in museums all over the world, as well as individual collections.
279 images of Aulacopleura konicki specimens provided by OpenUp! project on Europeana portal.

Aulacopleura konincki is interesting in that adults have a large number of body segments, but not a fixed number, ranging from 18 to 22. This is unusual, since adult trilobites of a species almost always have the same number of body segments. Due to the varying number of segments in adults and the large numbers of individuals present in numerous clusters of the fossils, some scientists argue that Aulacopleura konincki was a social animal. Adults may have comprised various castes according to the number of body segments, similarly to workers or drones in bees. Definite conclusions to these surmises await further study.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Content Highlights - Arctium lappa and Velcro

Did you know which organism was the inspiration for Velcro? An unimpressive plant, at first glance, which spreads its seeds through "furry" animals – a burdock (Arctium lappa).
Articum lappa x minus specimen from Biologiezentrum, Linz-Dornach collection, leg Hans Metlesics. Link to the original source is The image is under CC-BY-SA licence.

Arctium lappa is a dicotyledonous herb of the family Asteraceae, a group that includes the well-known dandelion (Taraxacum officinale) and daisy (Leucanthemum). It is one of the largest plants in Central Europe. It has a strong and long root, strong stems and large leaves alternately built. Red flowers are tubular and form spherical inflorescences arranged in a corymb, surrounded by bracts with hooked tops. Fruit of burdock is achene with short fluff. Burdock is found along roadsides, in rubble, landfills, etc. The plant is also known from Asia, Africa and America.
Velcro on jacket.

Burdock is a medicinal herb with multiple uses. Perhaps the greatest benefit to man, however, lies in different properties of this plant. In 1948 the Swiss engineer Georges de Mestral noticed that the spherical fruits of burdock would catch on his clothes. After studying the mechanism in more detail at home, came up with an invention that changed the world - Velcro. Velcro was soon found in many applications, such as the textile industry, healthcare, aerospace, engineering, etc.
Results for Actium lappa on Europeana portal

We will bring you more interesting news from the Nature soon. Stay tuned!

Friday, July 27, 2012

Content Highlights – Gobius kolombatovici from the family Gobiidae known as “gobies”

Did you know that gobies from the family Gobiidae are one of the largest families of fish, with more than 2,000 species in more than 200 genera? We would like to introduce you to one member of that species: Gobius kolombatovici.

This specimen is in the collections of the National Museum in Prague and is under CC-by license. 

Gobius kolombatovici is a very colorful and remarkable species, but even so, was discovered only recently (in 2000) by Kovačić and Miller in the northern part of the Adriatic Sea, in Kvarner Gulf. For seven years this species was considered to be endemic to Kvarner Gulf, but in 2007 it was also discovered by Francour and Mangialajo near the south coast of France. The last records about a new occurrence of G. kolombatovici are from the Tyrrhenian and Ionian Seas. Apparently this species is rather common in the Mediterranean Sea. Its late discovery could be caused by water depth in which it lives, between 15 – 90 m, and by its timid nature - it hides very quickly when spotting a diver. 

This specimen is in the collections of the National Museum in Prague and is under CC-by license.  
This species is rarely represented in collections. Displayed specimens are from the Adriatic Sea, close to Krk Island and are stored in the collections of the National Museum in Prague. 

Gobius kolombatovici specimens on Europeana portal  
As we mentioned, gobies is a very abundant family of fish. The species are mostly smaller than 10 cm in length, some even less than 1 cm long when fully grown, which classify these species among the smallest vertebrates in the world. The largest gobies can reach over 30 cm in length, but that is exceptional. Gobies are not commonly served in fish restaurants, but they are an important prey species for fish like cod or haddock. Some gobies, like bumblebee gobies are also of interest as aquarium fish.

Our next content highlight will come from the fossil world, stay tuned with OpenUp!

Thursday, July 26, 2012

BLE as virtual bridge between projects, content and knowledge

We are glad to inform you that the BiodiversityLibrary Exhibition (BLE) is now connected to the Europeana portal via all images on informative cards. BLE is a virtual exhibition focused on disseminating  natural history content (literature, illustrations and images) to the broader public via curated collections centered around a variety of themes.. BLE is also creating interconnections between portals/archives which are providing content under public domain or variable CC licenses.
BLE is now connected to the Europeana portal.

BLE was officially launched in February as a virtual exhibition for Biodiversity Heritage Library Europe and BHL US/UK. Since then, BLE has disseminated natural history literature via two thematic topics, Spices and Expeditions, using impressive illustrations, interesting information and high quality images. These exhibitions also link to the BHL-Europe and BHL-US/UK portals.. The BLE platform was developed by a team from the National Museum Prague and developers from the IT4Care company under the BHL-Europe project. Since the BHL-Europe project’s closure in April, 2012, BLE has been released as an as open source application. The Prague team is also involved in the OpenUp! project, which is providing Natural History content for the Europeana portal.  A new BLE topic, "Poisonous Nature," is under development by the OpenUp! project and will use content from BHL (illustrations) and OpenUp! (images) which are displayed on the Europeana portal. ”Poisonous Nature” offers a great opportunity for OpenUp! And Europeana to use this platform and reach expanded audiences, including those of BHL-Europe and BHL US/UK.
Schema of content connection between BLE, BHL US/UK and Europeana.

Development work on BLE is still continuing and additional platform improvements are being implemented. At the global BHL meeting in Berlin, June 2012, project participants decided to share BLE with all possible global BHL nodes, including Australia, China, Egypt, Brazil, US and Europe (with possible participation in sub-Saharan Africa in the future), allowing these nodes to create new, interesting thematic topics, link them to variable portals including Europeana, BHL-Europe,BHL US/UK, EOL etc., and use it as a dissemination tool. Once the platform is populated with a wider variety of thematic exhibitions, the potential to reach broader audiences will rapidly grow, particularly if disseminated via global partners. BLE will serve as a central repository, allowing content providers to reach new audiences, while simultaneously being promoted by a variety of BHL nodes.
Schema of BLE portal connections. Green arrows are running connections and blue arrows are prepared connections. Yellow cloud cover Global BHL nodes where will be included also BHL Egypt and BHL Africa.

The addition of new topics and information will also expand the potential for use in the education sector, introducing the content and knowledge in attractive ways for future generations.
Schema of prepared design adaptations of BLE front page.

In order to share BLE via other partners, such as Global BHL nodes, project organizers will coordinate an international workshop as part of the TDWG conference in Beijingin October 2012. The event is open to everyone. If you would like to know more about this workshop, please contact us via the BLE contact form.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Content Highlights – Abrus precatorius known as “Jequirity”

As the content from the OpenUp! project gradually grows on the Europeana portal, we are preparing selections of natural history content highlights for you.
This specimen is stored at Botanic Garden and Botanical Museum Berlin-Dahlem and the image is under the Creative Commons cc-by-sa 3.0 license. More information about the image use is under this link

Our first object is an interesting poisonous plant: Abrus precatorius. This herb commonly named Jequirity or Crab's Eye is widely distributed in the tropics today, mostly as an invasive weed. It is a perennial climbing legume up to 10 m high, with white to red coloured flowers and pinnate leaves. The leaves are consumed as a vegetable in central and east Africa. Well known are the bright red seeds with black top, used as beads for necklaces and other jewellery, as well as in percussion instruments. Due to the uniform weight of the seeds - nearly exactly 0,28 g - the seeds were also used for weighing gold and jewellery. The seeds contain a strong toxin, named abrin. Abrin inactivates protein synthesis in cells. A fatal dose of this poison is only 3 micrograms (µg), therefore one seed can be lethal for a human. In traditional medicine in Asia and Africa the purified and detoxified seeds are a medicine against diseases of the eye.

This displayed specimen is a so-called isotype of a special subspecies of Abrus precatorius which occurs in Africa, as the name of the subspecies, subsp. africanus, suggests.

Abrus precatorius specimen on Europeana portal

A type specimen is of outstanding value for the biologist: The scientific description of an organism is generally done for one individual of the species (or subspecies), which is usually prepared and stored in a natural history museum with international status. The scientific name is closely linked with this individual, called a holotype. In the case of our Abrus precatorius subsp. Africanus specimen, we received from the Kew herbarium a duplicate of the holotype, called an isotype.

More objects are coming, stay tuned!

Monday, July 2, 2012

BHL-Europe Final Meeting, Europeana Plenary and other events

In recent weeks, several interesting events were held across Europe and of course OpenUp! was there: Long night of science, Symposium of Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), BHL-Europe Final Meeting , 11th Larwood meeting and Europeana plenary event.

OpenUp! poster displayed during BHL-Europe final meeting.
We already informed you about the Long Night of Science in Berlin in our last post, but this event was followed by the closely related BHL-Europe final meeting. This meeting was held in Jerusalem Church in Berlin June 4th – 6th and part (the first day) was a symposium on the topic of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CDB), which was adopted 20 years ago. A new OpenUp! poster was presented and stayed displayed during this entire BHL-Europe event, and discussed during coffee breaks and poster sessions by Jiří Frank. During the BHL-Europe Show and Tell session which was on the second day of this event, the OpenUp! project was presented by Petra Böttinger. During afternoon session Jiří Frank presented Biodiversity Library Exhibition (BLE) and its relation with BHL-Europe, OpenUp! and Europeana.You can find more information about this event on BHL-Europe blog here.
BHL-Europe meeting Jerusalem Church.
OpenUp! coordination team in discussion during BHL-Europe final meeting.
Jiří Frank presenting BLE virtual exhibition showing also BHL-Europe, OpenUp! and Europeana relation and content.
 In parallel with the Long night of Science, OpenUp! was introduced during the 11th Larwood meeting in Brno, Czech Republic by Kamil Zágoršek. From Thursday, May 31st to Saturday, June 2nd, 2012, the Department of Geological Sciences, Masaryk University in BRNO (Czech Republic) hosted the 11th Larwood meeting. 29 colleagues from 25 European countries and Brazil took part in the meeting, presenting 23 talks and 6 posters. Dr. Kamil Zágoršek introduced the OpenUp! project on June 1st, explaining the ideas behind the project, describing content delivered to Europeana and outlining prospective usage of this content by the scientific community.

Dr. Kamil Zágoršek introducing OpenUp! project during the 11th Larwood meeting in Brno.
June 13th – 15th the Europeana Plenary event was held in Leuven, Belgium, which was a great opportunity to discuss and share ideas and details with the staff of Europeana (the primary OpenUp! aggregator). The program was full of very interesting sessions and presentations, and there was also space for presenting the OpenUp! project by Kamil Zágoršek during the Open Mike session. During the Europeana Plenary, Hack4Europe 2012 was organised and its preview of prototypes is published here. For more details about this event and programme please visit the conference website and Europeana blog.
Kamil Zágoršek presenting OpenUp! on Europeana Plenary event.
Europeana Plenary 2012
Europeana Plenary 2012
We are currently preparing a new regular blog about Natural History content highlights. Stay tuned! 

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Long Night of Science in Berlin

On Saturday 2 June 2012, the Long Night of Science was held in selected institutions in Berlin.  Exhibitions and research facilities were opened to the public. Museum für Naturkunde could not be missing, as well as presentations of the projects OpenUp! and BHL- Europe. From the other projects also presented GBIF, Wikipedia, Wikimedia and many others. OpenUp project! introduced new posters during this event on the GBIF stand. Within the BHL-Europe stand was presented also Biodiversity Library Exhibition.

The scientific night in MfN was attended by hundreds of people and we are happy to declare this event associated with the presentation of the OpenUp! project as very successful.

OpenUp! poster and rollup on GBIF stand
  on the Long Night of Science in MfN Berlin.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

OpenUp! project in Museum für Naturkunde

The OpenUp! project was presented during the official inauguration of the new general director of the Museum für Naturkunde, Prof. Dr. Johannes Vogel, in Berlin 8th of May 2012.
The new OpenUp! roll-up screen was attracting a number of interested attendees. The ensemble was completed by a show case displaying original objects of the museum’s butterfly collection, already visible in Europeana.

Thursday, May 10, 2012


OpenUp! Annual Meeting 2012 Paris

The conference was held in the Muséum Nationale d’Histoire Naturelle, for three consecutive days. It was a great opportunity for all 23 project partners to meet and discuss the project face to face. There were almost 60 attendees, including several guests. 

The first day of the meeting was divided into two important sections. In the morning, the two main working groups ran parallel meetings: the Outreach and Dissemination Group, and the Technology Management Group. Tasks fulfilled during the preceding year were discussed and future steps laid out according to the project plan. In the afternoon the OpenUp! tutorial took place, where an update was given on technical aspects of the content provision. The session was structured into several presentations, each with a subsequent discussion. The internal Steering Committee meeting runs in parallel. 
The second day of the meeting was held in the beautiful wooden Amphithéâtre de Paléontologie. The day starts with content providers meeting which was followed by project assembly meeting for the rest of the day. This meeting was organized for all project partners and several guests. The talks were structured into thematic groups like technology, content provision, dissemination and administrative issues. Further presentations covered virtual exhibitions and cooperation with related projects like BHL-Europe. Besides the project members, several guests representing the Natural Europe project and Europeana attended, adding useful views and ideas about synergies.
The Review meeting with the EC Project Officer and Evaluation Panel was held on the third day. Feedback from the reviewers in the meeting was generally positive and we are looking forward to their evaluation report. 
Under this link you can find all presentations and minutes from the Project Assembly session.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

The OpenUp! Newsletter

We are very proud that the second issue has been published. The content focuses on the progress that has been made in the past months including the most challenging tasks such as the first OpenUp! content for Europeana and more!

Read more about data quality enhancement and digitising the collections. Experience the whole ingestion process for OpenUp! biodiversity data into the Europeana portal and find out more about the Biodiversity Library Exhibition!

We are looking forward to the cooperation with more scientific partners and content providers to make the online collections wider for all the usefull educational purposes and other diverse applications!

 Check out the newsletter online in high or low-ress version here on the OpenUp! website.  

Monday, March 19, 2012

First Multimedia Objects

We are happy to announce that the first 223.953 multimedia objects have been delivered to Europeana via OpenUp!. 

Via Europeana the digital collections of European museums, libraries and archives are now easily accessible for everybody.  A project OpenUp! which would provide this multimedia content with specific biological and multilingual functionality to a wide European cultural audience through Europeana was proposed. The inclusion of culturally-significant multimedia content from European natural history collections (i.e., more than 1 million pictures, artwork, movies, and audio files) will enhance the scientific dimension of Europeana by adding substantial information about the natural world complementing the digital biodiversity literature, and in addition to the existing material primarily from the arts and humanities. 

A consortium leading by Freie Universitaet Berlin was established to work together on the proposed aims under the EU project OpenUp!. The members of consortium are 23 scientific institutions from 12 different European countries.  

The result of this project and the procedures set in place to make natural history data accessible can serve as proof of concept of the networking and distributed access mechanisms used for Europeana content provision. This experience can be extended to other content provider communities with a similar high degree of distribution.

To have a look at the content from the contributing institutions click on the links below.