The new Tree of Life for 2.3 million species

The new Tree of Life linking all species on Earth, has some 2.3 million species that have been identified and named.

A great collaborative effort from 11 institutions around the US have compiled the most comprehensive catalog of species, called the Open Tree of Life.

Above: A first draft, that took three years to complete, of the first comprehensive “tree of life,” showing the links between 2.3 million named species of animals, plants, fungi and microbes.   Credit Stephen Smith, University of Michigan

For the first time, the Tree of Life links all species on Earth from a single life form that originated about 4 billion years ago, through a shared evolutionary history.

Principal investigator Karen Cranston of Duke University, said:

“This is the first real attempt to connect the dots and put it all together. Think of it as Version 1.0.

There’s a pretty big gap between the sum of what scientists know about how living things are related, and what’s actually available digitally.”

Co-author Douglas Soltis of the University of Florida, added:

“As important as showing what we do know about relationships, this first tree of life is also important in revealing what we don’t know.”

The researchers wrote:

“Although a massive undertaking in its own right, this draft tree of life represents only a first step.”

via earthsky

source Open Tree of Life