The Encyclopedia of Life Launched

EOLToday in 2008, the Encyclopedia of Life was launched. From the Website: “The Encyclopedia will be an online reference and database on all 1.9 million species currently known to science and will stay current by capturing information on newly discovered and formally described species. The Encyclopedia of Life will help all of us better understand life on our planet.

“Currently, data and information can be found across the globe, in many scattered databases, books, and journals. Even smart searchers are often overwhelmed by lists of sites found by search engines or by lack of easy access to libraries, museums, and other storehouses of knowledge. There is currently no single place where consumers of information can turn to for scientifically authenticated information about every known species on Earth. Encyclopedia of Life will provide this ‘one-stop shopping’.

“Many people have dreamed about having all information about species brought together in one place. In the 1990s, Chris Thompson (Smithsonian Institution) and Daniel Janzen (University of Pennsylvania and INBio, Costa Rica) were among the first to envision on-line species pages and several projects were started around the globe to develop such pages for limited groups of organisms. E.O. Wilson of Harvard University articulated the idea for an encyclopedia of all life in a widely read essay published in 2003 and has been one of the leading proponents of the Encyclopedia of Life. Wilson’s contributions have been the inspiration for our current efforts.”

2008 was the 250th anniversary of the publication of the 10th edition of Systema Naturaeby Carl Linnaeus, marking the starting point of zoological nomenclature. Today, the Encyclopedia of Life has more than 1.7 million images and more than a million pages.


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