Zoological Record – Reviewed Fall 2001

Anthropology in Zoological Record

Reviewed by Janet L. Steins, Tozzer Library, Harvard University, Cambridge

MA, August, 2001.

Zoological Record, 1978-     . Available on the Web, on CD’s, or online via


Zoological Record (ZR) is published jointly by the Zoological Society of

London and BIOSIS. ZR, which is not a subset of the BIOSIS database, began

as a print publication in 1865 out of the Zoological Society and the

British Museum. The Zoological Society had sole responsibility for its

production between 1886 and 1980, when it began its partnership with BIOSIS.

BIOSIS can be contacted at:

Two Commerce Square, 2001 Market St., Suite 700, Philadelphia, PA


Tel: 1-800-523-4806 (USA and Canada)

1-215-587-4800 (Worldwide)


BIOSIS also maintains an office in York, UK.

Three vendors currently providing subscriptions to Zoological Record

electronically are:

Cambridge Scientific Abstracts (CSA), 7200 Wisconsin

Avenue – Suite 601, Bethesda, MD 20814

Tel: 1 301 961-6700

Fax: 1 301 961-6720


Dialog Corporation, 11000 Regency Parkway, Suite 10

Cary, North Carolina 27511

Tel: (1)-800-3-DIALOG (North America)

Tel: (1)-919-462-8600

Fax: (1)-919-468-9890


SilverPlatter Information, Inc., 100 River Ridge Drive,

Norwood, MA 02062-5043

Tel: 1 781 769-2599

Toll Free: 1 800 343-0064 (US and Canada)

Fax: 1 781 769-8763


Zoological Record is also available in print form directly from BIOSIS.

This review is based on an examination of the Zoological Record database

using Cambridge Scientific Abstracts’ Internet Database Service (IDS)

during the spring and summer of 2001. This is the same interface described

in the review of Ecology Abstracts that appeared in the previous issue of

ANSS Currents. CSA calls this database service ZR Plus.


If biological or physical anthropology is the branch of

modern anthropology that is the most scientific in its scope and

methodologies, we may assume that its literature will appropriately be

indexed in bibliographic sources catering to the information needs of

scientists, particularly biologists. Although indexes to the social

sciences literature (where anthropology is traditionally located), will

often index periodical and other resources in physical anthropology,

researchers may turn to Zoological Record for fuller coverage of the

biological anthropology literature. For example, Anthropological

Literature (AL), which indexes the holdings of Tozzer Library, Harvard’s

anthropology collection, indexes American Journal of Physical Anthropology,

Folia Primatologica, Human Evolution and other core journals in physical

anthropology. It does not index large numbers of biology publications of

interest to physical anthropologists.

Zoological Record(ZR) indexes the world’s literature on animal research.

It is a database primarily of bibliographic citations, other content being

optional. Potential subscribers can easily weigh exactly what content and
services each vendor of ZR offers by referring to a handy

chart on the

BIOSIS Web site that compares features available from each vendor. Currently,

Cambridge Scientific Abstracts provides English-language abstracts back to

1978 as well as full-text journal links via document locators.

SilverPlatter and Dialog just began providing abstracts in 2001, but these

vendors do not have links to full-text journal articles at this time. For

example, although SilverPlatter has introduced SilverLinker, which links

its databases to the full text of articles from a growing list of journal

publishers, Zoological Record is not currently included in this service.

Because features and services evolve quickly, potential subscribing

libraries should consult vendors’ Web sites as well as BIOSIS’s.

Size, Currency, Scope and Coverage:

The Zoological Record database begins in 1978, and all vendors provide monthly

updates of the file to subscribers. BIOSIS adds over 70,000 entries to ZR each year, and

from 1978 to May, 2001, the database encompasses over 1.5 million records. More

than 4,500 serial publications from over 100 countries are monitored for

inclusion. Document types include articles, books, meetings, meeting

papers, CD’s, software, online resources, diskettes and microforms, but not

dissertations unless they have been published in the conventional sense.

The geographic range of source publications in ZR is worldwide, as

indicated by the following figures:

Europe and the Middle East 54%

Asia and Australasia 19%

North America 18%

Central and South America 5%

Africa 2%

English-language documents currently comprise just 65% of the database

(975,000 citations). Some recent searches limited solely by language

yielded 83,000 Russian, 79,000 German, 56,500 French, 33,000 Spanish, and

24,500 Japanese citations. The indexing of World Wide Web sites in many

languages is evidently becoming a priority for BIOSIS, with a recent search

yielding some 125,000 sites in English, 423 in German and 44 in Russian.

Ideally, the depth of the coverage of ZR would be matched by its

timeliness, and in this regard it seems to do a better job than

Anthropological Literature for journals indexed in both. The time lag for

key journals is several months. By early September, 2001, ZR Plus had

indexed monthly issues of American Journal of Physical Anthropology (AJPA)

through the May issue. AL had indexed the same journal only through the

March issue. The April, 2001, issue of the quarterly Primates; a Journal

of Primatology was indexed in ZR Plus but not yet in AL.

BIOSIS’s overview of the scope of Zoological Record notes that the database

emphasizes natural biology and systematics of [non-human] animals. It

covers anthropology “only when the study focuses on the natural biology of

the animal.” The editorial policy continues, “Coverage normally excludes

Homo sapiens, but papers which discuss humans and animals together are

covered for the animals provided they are within the general scope. Papers

discussing extinct relatives of humans (e.g., Homo erectus, Homo

neanderthalensis) are included.” Studies of modern human populations are not.

Zoological Record’s indexing is comprehensive when covering systematic

zoology. Otherwise it is selective, and it is worth noting some examples

of this selectivity. ZR did not index two articles on evidence of disease

in human skeletons published in the April issue of AJPA, one of which

focused on medieval skeletons in England and the other on prehistoric and

early historic Native American skeletons in the U.S. In the May issue, a

study about the DNA of a prehistoric Great Basin population was not

indexed. In the March issue, Anthropological Literature indexed articles

on prehistoric Peruvian skeletons and on the biology of a present-day Papua

New Guinea population, but ZR did not. This missing literature, by and for

researchers in a major subfield of biological anthropology, must therefore

be identified in another way, and AL is clearly one way to fill this gap.

To demonstrate further how the two indexes complement each other, AL

indexes journals such as Annals of Human Biology, Annals of Human Genetics,

and Social Biology, while ZR does not.

User Guidance:

Cambridge Scientific Abstracts offers extensive general

online assistance for all products in its Internet Database Service. A

link from the CSA-IDS Zoological Recordfact sheet refers the user to a

Quick Reference Card published by BIOSIS. For additional help specific to

Zoological Record researchers must turn to BIOSIS which publishes in print

form two essential guides, some elements of which are also available on the


1.  Search Guide

The Zoological Record Search Guide with Master Index, updated in print

form annually, is comprised of five sections: Editorial Policies, Search

System Information, Search Fundamentals, Thesaurus (Subject and

Systematic), and Master Index.

The Master Index is a list of over 16,000 controlled and non-controlled

terms with references to the Subject and Systematic Thesaurus sections. It

is identified as the place to begin when starting to develop a search

strategy, and, indeed, it is this highly controlled vocabulary, so

essential when doing research in the biological sciences, that sets

Zoological Record apart from other indexes covering some of the physical

anthropology literature.

The Thesaurus, which has been developed over 20 years and contains some

10,000 terms, is divided into two parts – Systematic and Subject, both of

which are also available online


The Subject Thesaurus is comprised of 3,000 terms arranged in hierarchies representing

major subject and geographic areas. Full scope and history notes are

included. The Systematic Thesaurus consists of 7,000 taxonomic names, at

family level and above, arranged phylogenetically in a hierarchical

classification scheme representing the various taxonomic groups of the

animal kingdom. Of key importance to paleoanthropologists, the Systematic

Thesaurus identifies fossil forms as such.

2.   Sources

Zoological Record Serial Sources, available only in print format, contains

a complete list of all 10,000 currently and previously indexed titles.

Updated annually, it includes all relevant bibliographic information such

as ISSNs, title changes, abbreviations and publishers. Information about

the approximately 4,500 active sources currently monitored for inclusion in

ZR is available both in print form in the above volume and online at


Electronic Record Structure, Retrieval and Search Results:

Many elements are indexed and searchable in ZR Plus. Fields, listed alphabetically by

two-letter code, are:

AB = Abstract NT = Notes
AF = Author Affiliation OT = Original Title
AN = Accession NumberPT = Publication Type
AU = Author PY = Publication Year
DE = Descriptors SL = Summary Language
IB = ISBN SO = Source
IS = ISSN SY = Systematics
KW = Keyword SX = Supertaxa
LA = Language TI = Title
LG = Long Record UD = Update Code

Field codes are further explained in the Search Guide and on the online CSA

fact sheet for ZR Plus


Searching ZR Plus begins with identifying terms of interest in the Master

Index, which then leads the researcher to either the Subject or Systematic

Thesaurus. The Systematic Thesaurus allows the searcher to distinguish

among Supertaxa (58 broad animal groups, including Mammals) in English

vernacular terms. These are broken down into scientific animal names (such

as Primates, Hominidae, Lemuridae, or Pongidae). If the scientific name is

not known, searchers can try a preliminary search using a vernacular name

to locate references where the vernacular is mentioned. Scanning the Title

and Systematics fields of a few retrieved records should yield the

scientific name. For example, a quick search under the keyword “baboon”

quickly yields the scientific name Cercopithecidae, which can then be used

for a more comprehensive search.

The Subject Thesaurus contains the controlled terms used to index subject

concepts (in British English, as we are usefully reminded in the Search

Guide). It consists of 46 hierarchies, with the position of a term in a

hierarchy indicating both the scope of the term and its relation to other

terms. Of these 46 major headings, several are immediately obvious as

useful for anthropologists:

— “Animals & man,” and its subheadings “domestication,” “animals

associated with communities,” (with its own subheadings “animals in

archaeological sites” and “animals in human primitive cultures”); and

“animals in mythology, folklore and religion.”

— “Behaviour,” with subheadings such as “grooming” and “tool using,”

important terms for primatologists.

— “Evolution” may be limited to material on speciation or race formation,

terms that pertain to human ancestors.

— Specific “Geologic time periods” are relevant for studies of

paleoanthropology and early man (the terms “quaternary,” “holocene,” and

“pleistocene” can all be used to limit searches).

The following sample searches were performed. Combining the controlled

subject terms “primate” or “primates” and “behaviour” yields 52 hits in the

2001 subfile. Of these just 24 appeared in journals also indexed by

Anthropological Literature. The sources exclusively indexed by ZR included

such journals as Behavioural Processes, Molecular Ecology, Animal Welfare,

Physiology & Behavior, and the African Journal of Ecology.

A search for works by some primatologists and paleoanthropologists was also

undertaken. Hits for works by authors Jane Goodall, Tim D. White, Mary

Leakey, and Donald C. Johanson were about evenly divided between those

which could also be found in Anthropological Literature (AL) and those

which could not. Some of the works not in AL were from general science

periodicals such as Science, Nature, Proceedings of the National Academy of

Sciences, and National Geographic, which are too multidisciplinary to be

held by Harvard’s Tozzer Library. Of course these sources will also be

indexed in other general indexes available in our libraries.

As suggested by some of the controlled terms identified from the Subject

Thesaurus, ZR is also valuable for researchers in both archaeology and

cultural anthropology. Searching the term “archaeological sites” in

Zoological Record produces 1,590 hits. A look at the first 50 journal

citations reveals a pattern somewhat different from that above: 30 are from

journals also indexed by Anthropological Literature and the remaining 20

are all from scholarly journals not likely to be indexed in other indexes,

either general or specialized. Search results may be limited

geographically. For instance, combining “archaeological sites” and

“Africa” yields 31 hits, and limiting by “North America” yields 15. By

limiting with the descriptor “prehistoric” we pared our list of 1,590 hits

all the way down to 155, however, a quick look at some of the results from

the non-limited search of “archaeological sites” indicates that many of

these do in fact concern prehistoric sites. But their authors have not

used the term “prehistoric” in their titles or abstracts, indicating that

this particular delimiter is not too useful.

One of the surprises to be found in ZR Plus for this reviewer was the

amount of interesting cultural anthropology indexed in it. And because of

the scientific focus of the source publications, it is fair to assume that

this material will be indexed in few general or anthropology indexes.

Searches were done on some of the controlled subject terms mentioned above

with the following results: “animals and man” (2,652 hits); “human

primitive cultures” (213 hits); and “mythology, folklore and religion”

(1,143 hits). Included was an article about the relationship between man

and cave bears in Romania that appeared in the proceedings of a speleology

conference. Another was entitled, “The role of birds in the culture of the

Ndebele people of Zimbabwe,” which appeared in the journal Ostrich

published by the South African Ornithological Society. What was my

favorite? That must be “Rock paintings related to honey hunting,”

published in Bee World, the organ of the International Bee Research


Recent Enhancements:

Zoological Record has begun indexing ejournals.

Although other indexes are no doubt doing likewise, this reviewer is

unaware of any right now. (Such a study might be an appropriate subject of

another review.) Searches yielded citations to articles in Mediterranean

Prehistory Online and Internet Archaeology, among others.

ZR also now indexes Web resources, though it is not immediately apparent if

it is BIOSIS or Cambridge Scientific Abstracts that is responsible for this

enhancement. The News & Events page on CSA’s Web site does not at present

discuss this service, and while BIOSIS’s News Releases and Announcements

page tantalizingly refers to a January, 2001 news item entitled “Zoological

Record Announces New Product Enhancements,” this was a dead link when I

clicked on it. When searches did result in references to Web resources,

these were always identified separately from printed references. It does

not appear to be possible to limit search results to Web resources only.

Unfortunately, indexing of Web resources does not seem to utilize the same

controlled subject vocabulary as does indexing the printed literature.

Three Web resources were identified when keyword searching on the term

“baboons,” but none when searching “Cercopithecidae” in the Systematic

Index. Two Web resources were identified when keyword searching on the

term “Neanderthals,” but none when searching “Homo neanderthalensis” in the

Systematic Index. Furthermore, these Web resources seem to be identified

for indexing simply by electronically scanning Web pages. The three sites

resulting from the “baboons” search each took us to the individual home

page of an academic biological or medical researcher who uses baboons in

his research. A quick look at these home pages suggests that the reader

would learn about what is being done in these three laboratories, but very

little about baboons. A search of “archaeological sites” yielded two Web

pages, and in one case it is clear that it came up only because the phrase

appears on the Web page. On its Environmental Fact Sheet for the

Contoocook River, the New Hampshire Rivers Management and Protection

Program mentions that there are seven recorded archaeological sites on it.

The sites are not named, nor are there links to them. All this suggests

to me that without an evaluation of the content of Web resources with more

focused subject analysis, their indexing in Zoological Record offers little

of value to the serious researcher.


Zoological Record is a highly valuable resource for research

in primatology and paleoanthropology, a significant caveat being that it

does not cover the physical anthropology of modern humans. Its thorough

monitoring of the world’s literature and timely indexing are noteworthy, as

is the choice available to subscribers among various options and providers.

Zoological Record‘s subject and systematic indexing with highly controlled

vocabulary all serve to provide access to the literature unparalleled by

other indexes.

Web sites in this review:






Cambridge Scientific Abstracts:  






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