Short Bytes: For the first time, scientists have programmed a comprehensive tree of life that combines us all together. This tree shows a complex relationship of all the living beings that trace back to the beginning of life on Earth more than 3.5 billion years ago.
This tree shows a complex relationship of all the living beings that trace back to the beginning of life on Earth more than 3.5 billion years ago.
Over the past years, researchers have made thousands of such smaller trees with branches of life, but this is for the first time all those branches are combined to build a giant tree. Published on Friday in the Proceedings of the National Academies of Sciences, this resultant tree of life includes 2.3 million named species on Earth.
Principal investigator Karen Cranston of Duke University in a statement: “This is the first real attempt to connect the dots and put it all together. Think of it as Version 1.0.” “Although a massive undertaking in its own right, this draft tree of life represents only a first step,” the researchers wrote.
To compile this huge data, researchers accounted for the different taxonomy names, spellings and misspellings coming across various research papers. This tree will grow with time and newly discovered species of animals, plants etc. will be added each year.
“There’s a pretty big gap between the sum of what scientists know about how living things are related, and what’s actually available digitally,” Cranston said.
This tree of life is public to all and isn’t hidden inside some academic research paper or journal. You can get your hands on the tree as well as the source code of the tree of life.