Evolution is the unifying theory of biology, a Tree of Life is one way of visualising the process. Like most trees it takes up a lot of space. And by the time you’ve drawn it someone has discovered a new relationship or discredited a supposed relationship and it’s time to start again.
Enter the Open Tree of Life Project …
The tree of life links all biodiversity through a shared evolutionary history. This project will producethe first online, comprehensive first-draft tree of all 1.8 million named species, accessible to both the public and scientific communities. Assembly of the tree will incorporate previously-published results, with strong collaborations between computational and empirical biologists to develop, test and improve methods of data synthesis.
A great project but a few minutes wandering their website will have you wondering if they have any idea how to communicate with anyone but nerds.
OneZoom to the rescue. This gives the non-nerd a very useful means of visiting the tree which is loaded with useful information. The mammal branch is up and running … it is worth enduring the very nerdy tutorial, after that you can play for hours. I am very much looking forward to the Birds.