red tulips | copyright Jill J. Jensen



Encyclopedia of Life

everything biology — now and growing


As the World Wide Web emerged into reality in the 1990s, several scientists envisioned a Web-based compendium of biological species.

But it took the enthusiasm of Harvard biologist E. O. Wilson and his 2005 letter to the MacArthur Foundation seeking funds, as well as his presentation to the 2007 TEDconference (Technology, Education, Design) to lift the project out of the imagination and into cyberspace. Of course, a lot of technology, newly available collaboration software, extensive database programming, and scientific input has been required, too.

With its goal of "helping us better understand life on our planet," the Encyclopedia of Life (EOL) is itself a living thing, seemingly under perpetual construction.

Not only is the goal to catalog all 1.8 million currently known species of life on Earth, the EOL will continue to grow with the addition of any new discoveries and newly described species.

Just getting the first 1.8 million online is expected to take ten years, so you can visit the EOL website often and learn something new each time.


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