A Map of All Known Species of the World

Since first conceptualized by Charles Darwin in his seminal book, The Origin of Species (1859), tree diagrams of various kinds have been used to depict evolution and convey the relationship between various species across the animal, plant, and microbial kingdoms.

Now, a project called OpenTreeOfLife.org has confensed tens of thousands of various phytogenic trees into one beautiful and inuitive circular diagram, as seen below.


Circle of Life

This lovely and useful guide is the end result of three years of work undertaken by researchers from a dozen scientific institutions from around the world.

Every line in the circle represent a species, and together they account for all 2.3 million species thus far named; another 5.4 million are thought to remain to be properly accounted for. With around 15,000 new species being discovered annually, the diagram will continue to grow in size and sophistication — so it is a good thing anyone is free to suggest updates or tweaks to the database.

As biologists continue to make progress in discovering and classifying new species (and re-examining existing ones), we can expect to see a lot of changes in the makeup of this diagram. I cannot wait to see this used in classrooms and popular science books.

Source: Scientific American

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