January 16, 2022

New Open Access Resource: “Scientists Create the First Digital ‘Tree Of Life’ For 2.3 Million Species”

From the Christian Science Monitor:

Scientists from 11 organizations have digitized a “tree of life,” a genetic map of 2.3 million named species of animals, plants, fungi and microbes that all branched off over time from a common ancestor.

In a September 18 paper in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, researchers wrote that “The Open Tree Taxonomy” is likely the first to aggregate tens of thousands of already published smaller trees into a comprehensive map of all life. The digital tree is free for anyone to use and update on oOpentreeoflife.org.


Only one out of six studies published in about 100 journals in the decade leading up to 2012 have digital data that others can use, the researchers reported. Most of the 7,500 phylogenetic – or evolutionary branching – trees are in PDF or image formats that cannot be readily downloaded and merged with other data.

For this reason, the first version of the tree of life is based only on 484 trees that map the genetic evolution of species, from worm to beetle to human to giraffe.

Read the Complete Article

Direct to New Resource: Open Tree of Life
Includes access to source code and underlying data.

See Also: First Digital Geological Map of the World’s Ocean Floor Released, Access 3D Interactive Map Online (September 7, 2015)

About Gary Price

Gary Price (gprice@mediasourceinc.com) is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at Ask.com, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.