University homepage Suomeksi På svenska In English
University of Helsinki Institute of Biotechnology
MorphoBrowser Alopex lagopus
Open Database
 Selection of teeth


Group Leader
Jukka Jernvall
jukka.jernvall -at-

Institute of Biotechnology
Street address: Viikinkaari 9
(P.O. Box 56)
00014 University of Helsinki

Database Design

The 3D representations in the database are organised taxonomically according to the following levels of taxonomic hierarchy:
                      Unique (subspecies, variety, strain, mutant)
The 'Unique' field can be used to distinguish subspecies or varieties of a species, laboratory strains, or specific mutants or transgenic lines. This is the final taxonomic categorisation and is therefore the basic unit of classification in the database. This final level is useful because of the diverse nature of the data in the database, representing recent species, extinct species and genetically modified laboratory animals. For simplicity, each entry in the Unique field will be referred to as a 'species' in these notes. Information about the species is stored at this level, such as whether the species is extant, extinct or a laboratory strain, as well as dietary information.

Each 3D representation is known as a 'MorphoView'. Within each species, the MorphoViews are organised following another hierarchy:

The database is split in this way to allow it to accommodate several types of data, including museum specimens, wild-caught animals and laboratory animals. For these different types, the same individual animal may be sampled one or multiple times.
At the Individual level, information that is constant for the single individual animal is recorded, such as dates of birth and death, sex and location of skeletal material in a museum. All individuals from the same species are at this level.
The Instance level allows multiple captures of the same individual to be treated separately. The locality where the individual was trapped or found, as well as the age, body size and general tooth wear level at the time of capture can be entered here. A museum specimen that was only captured once will only have one Instance record for that individual.
At the Sample level, different sets of teeth that were then imaged are treated separately. For instance, molars from the upper right jaw may constitute one sample, and molars from the lower right jaw another. The specific teeth in the sample can be nominated (e.g. I1, P4, M1) or just the tooth position category (e.g. I, C, P, M). The wear level of these teeth can be entered at this level.
The MorphoView shows the 3D representation of the tooth in a window, along with a summary of the information from the higher levels. At the MorphoView level, information on the data file and the scanning method and machine are given.