mroconnor

Archive for the ‘Evolution’ Category

“It began in the sea…”

In Evolution on January 13, 2010 at 6:53 pm

Chrysaora fuscescens © 2007 Patrick Coin

David Attenborough describing 3,000 million years of evolution in six minutes here.

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Chest of jewels

In Evolution on October 26, 2009 at 11:35 pm

a.calif.300a

Atlanta californiensis

In addition to Wikipedia offspring like Wikibooks, Wikimedia, Wikitravel, and Wikiversity it turns out that there’s also Wikispecies whose slogan is “a free directory of life.” There’s entries for over 200,000 species and random perusing will turn up interesting pages on obscure lifeforms such as Andira anthelmia or Paysandisia. The most useful aspect is probably the “taxonavigation” offered for each species. But it still pales in comparison to the work being done by hundreds of biologists and amateur naturalists on the Tree of Life Web Project, where you can explore the evolutionary relationship of all organisms visually through detailed maps of the phylogenetic “branches” of life. subgroups Whether you start with a single organism (a “leaf”) or an entire branch of species, the act of clicking through the pages manages to give you a sense of evolution through time, or “tree thinking” as the ToL people call it. In a 2007 article about the origins of the project for the journal Zootaxa, the authors wrote: “We now see all life on Earth as intimately connected in a single tree-like structure of flowing nucleotide sequences, housed in the bodies of organisms they help build. This tree is billions of years in age, with myriad branches, and millions of extant leaves. The existence of this tree, and that each of us is part of on of its leaves, is one of the most profound realizations that we as a species have achieved… Biodiversity is a chest of jewels that so few open.”