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A seriously impressive tree of life

July 1, 2010 - Posted in Science Posted by:

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There’s been some interesting commentary on Sciblogs recently about the tree of life.

tree_of_life_01

Tree of Life. Notice the tiny 'you are here' just under 'Animals'

As my part of the discussion (albeit an extremely brief one), I present you all with some major taxonomic madness*. A very, very detailed tree of life**.  It was made by looking at the RNA sequences of about 3,000 species, with the aim being to try be as representative of the major groups as was practicable.  Apparently, the number of species represented is about the square root of all species thought to exist on earth, which is kinda cool.

Another cool fact, of these 9 million species, we’ve only formally described and named about 1.7 million of them.

Anyone know how that 9 million species figure was reached?

And, you can use it free.  Just print it big enough…

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* Madness courtesy of the Hillis/Bull Lab at the University of Texas (a shoutout to all Austin-based peeps).  A big hat tip to MAKE magazine for alerting me to this.

** What makes it even cooler?  It’s been the originator of some excellent tats and other artwork…