13 Jan 2018

Family Tree for All Living Things

By Paula Johanson

When I want to relax this winter, I've been going to a science website called OneZoom. If you like biology, you might like it too! They've made an interactive image called the Open Tree of Life, that shows on your computer screen a family tree for all living things on Earth. You can zoom in to look at a branch of the family tree. The shape of the family tree is curved like a spiral, and the branches of the tree are curved too. As you zoom in, the shape of a branch is like a smaller version of the entire tree. This kind of design is called a fractal.

I zoomed in today and a circle on the tree grew large enough for me to read: "650 million years ago, during the Cryogenian Period, lived the most recent common ancestor to today's Animals."

OneZoom is a registered charity in the UK. They want to provide easy access to scientific knowledge about biodiversity and evolution. “This NSF-funded project will produce the first online, comprehensive first-draft tree of all named species, accessible to both scientists and the public,” reads their profile on Twitter for Open Tree of Life.

Are you looking for information, and maybe images, to use in your own project such as a school assignment? OneZoom says on their page of Frequently Asked Questions:
Please feel free to use our fractal visualizations as you wish for non-commercial purposes, as long as you credit us. The images themselves have been gathered from a large number of sources (Wikipedia, Flickr, etc.), mostly via the Encyclopedia of Life, and each will have their own licence (either public domain, or cc-by, or cc-by-sa). You can look this up by zooming into the small copyright symbol at the bottom left of every image on the tree: the symbol also serves as a link that will take you to the image page on the Encyclopedia of Life, from where you can find the original source. For more details please see our terms of use. Note that if you wish to use a screenshot without having to provide a list of sources, then we recommend that you use our public domain only visualization (Menu→Settings→Image Sources→Public Domain). We can also produce higher resolution SVG images on request.

Check out OneZoom on their website. Their home page explains a little about this website. To see the family tree, you can either click on their link for the tree of life explorer, or type this link http://www.onezoom.org/life into your browser. You can read tweets posted by OneZoom on Twitter at https://twitter.com/OneZoomTree

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