I recently discovered an amazing internet resource. The “Encyclopedia of Life” at EOL.org has a huge compiled database of nearly every living thing.
Our knowledge of the many life-forms on Earth – of animals, plants, fungi, protists and bacteria – is scattered around the world in books, journals, databases, websites, specimen collections, and in the minds of people everywhere. Imagine what it would mean if this information could be gathered together and made available to everyone – anywhere – at a moment’s notice.
This dream is becoming a reality through the Encyclopedia of Life. It’s a free, online collaborative encyclopedia intended to document all the 1.9 million living species known to science. It is compiled from existing databases and from contributions by experts and non-experts throughout the world.
It aims to build one “infinitely expandable” page for each species, including video, sound, images, graphics, as well as text. In addition, the Encyclopedia incorporates content from the Biodiversity Heritage Library, which digitizes millions of pages of printed literature from the world’s major natural history libraries.
The project was initially backed by a US$50 million funding commitment, led by the MacArthur Foundation and the Sloan Foundation, who provided US$20 million and US$5 million, respectively. The added US$25 million came from five cornerstone institutions—the Field Museum, Harvard University, the Marine Biological Laboratory, the Missouri Botanical Garden, and the Smithsonian Institution.
If you’re curious about any life form on this planet, check out EOL.org. It’s awesome!