Getting the Full Spectrum on Evolution
Penn State biology professor Blair Hedges is the co-creator of the TimeTree, which the the project’s site describes as a “public knowledge-base for information on the evolutionary timescale of life.” A science blogger at USA Today quotes Hedges putting it in slightly simpler terms: “The ultimate goal of the Timetree of Life initiative is… to discover when each species and all their ancestors originated, all the way back to the origin of life some four billion years ago.”
The format is a bit dense for laymen; when I tried to figure out the evolutionary difference between me and a clownfish (my four year old is a big Finding Nemo fan), I can’t say the result — 454.6 million years — left me feeling any wiser. But it promises to make research a lot easier for some evolutionary biologists out there, which I imagine is the actual point.
If nothing else, this graphic representation of the TimeTree would make an excellent wallpaper for your desktop.
Ryan Jones, senior editor