A website developed by British scientists maps the evolutionary connections between more than 2.2 million species known to science. The result of ten years of work, the project is called OneZoom and is available for free on the website www.onezoom.org.
On the platform, evolutionary history is represented by a tree of life. Each leaf corresponds to a species, and the branches show how it evolved from common ancestors over billions of years.
The project connected data from existing, scientifically reliable resources with the aim of presenting them in an easy-to-view and navigate way. The tree is automatically updated from sources such as the Open Tree of Life and the Encyclopedia of Life.
The operation is similar to that of a geographic map: the mouse is used to move through the tree, and the zoom shows more details. Species can be searched in the search box in the upper right corner, which also makes it possible to trace paths of common ancestry.
The preview is also customizable using the menu in the lower left corner of the page. The shape of the tree can be changed, as can the color schemes, which have different meanings.
The “extinction risk” color scheme shows data from the IUCN Red List of Endangered Species. In this view, red leaves represent endangered species, unlike green ones; in black, there are species that have recently become extinct, and in gray, those without sufficient data to know their extinction risk.
Another color preview is based on popularity. The researchers built an index based on Wikipedia access data that shows the most popular species in shades of red and the least popular in shades of blue.