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Wednesday, February 27, 2008

BIODIVERSITY: Life Under the Macroscope -- Stephen Leahy

BIODIVERSITY: Life Under the Macroscope
By Stephen Leahy

BROOKLIN, Canada, Feb 27 (IPS) - Free, authoritative and online: 1.8 million species.

That is the ultimate goal of the Encyclopedia of Life project, which put its first 30,000 species on the Internet this week. This ambitious global project will provide the details of every known species -- habitat, range, lifecycle, pictures and more -- and archive everything online so anyone can access this important information about life on Earth.

From sharks to mushrooms to bacteria, the Encyclopedia of Life will provide scientifically verified information that will satisfy both a grade school child's curiosity or enable a university researcher -- or amateur naturalist -- to make a scientific breakthrough, says James Edward, new executive director of the Encyclopedia of Life (EOL) project headquartered in Washington at the Smithsonian Institution.

Each species page has a built in content slider that allows you to select how much information you want to see on the page. And there is plenty of detail, including links to at least one million pages of digitised scientific information that is normally only available in the big 10 natural history museums located in the developed world.

"Anyone can access this for free no matter where they are," Edward told IPS.


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