Inspired by other online projects, scientists organize 2.3 million research papers into all-comprehensive ‘Tree of Life’. The database contains information on all researches that have been conducted on Earth’s animal species to enable scientists to keep a track of the works that have been conducted previously.
11 organizations have joined hands to set the grounds for “The Open Tree Taxonomy” project which presupposes the collection of all scientific data related to animal species on Earth. Previous works have led to the identification of 2.3 million species; therefore, the current “Tree of Life” is made out of 2.3 million smaller trees.
The symbol of the tree has been preferred to other symbols because it perfectly illustrates the idea of life on Earth. In addition, scientists believe all species have a common ancestor; hence, the need to cram all studies on the branches of one single tree.
According to researchers, genealogy trees should be used for animal species, too, not just for humans. Yet, the “Tree of Life” will be a well-documented database, whom users can freely upgrade with new researches and information on all species.
Many appliances could be drawn from the introduction of the new database. Scientists hope they will better understand viruses and treatments, based on the pieces of information that species share. Additionally, they hope they can improve agricultural techniques and find what food is most recommended for certain animal species.
Yet, the “Tree of Life” is only in its incipient phase, that researchers label as version 1.0. There are many scientific papers that come in PDF or image formats, being thus, harder to complement with other data. For this reasons, only 484 trees have been included in the database, for the moment. They contain data on various species from the tiniest species of worms to humans and elephants.
Works will continue in the future, as well, because scientists want their “Tree of Life” project to be constantly updated with new information. Similar to Wikipedia, biologists will contribute their future findings on the tree branches. The available data will be carefully examined to eliminate all biased info, scientists have concluded.
Douglas Soltis, a professor at the University of Florida, told the press that most people considered this initiative impossible when they first introduced it 25 years ago. Due to the engineering progress researchers were able to build the necessary computer code and to select data within three years.
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