Images via Penn State, Credit Timetree of Life project
How are humans linked to prehistoric bacteria? When did cats and dogs evolve away from each other? Everything you wanted to know about the timescale of life on Earth is heaped in one giant project called TimeTree of Life, a brilliant idea to chart the entire timescale of the evolution of life on our planet. It was dreamed up by Sudhir Kumar, a Ph.D. grad from Penn State and who is now director of the Biodesign Institute's Center for Evolutionary Medicine and Informatics at Arizona State University. The project of compiling all the world's data on species evolution was started online last year, but now the whole thing is available to anyone with an iPhone. If you're interested in the links different species have to one another on the evolutionary time tree, you'll be able to look it up in just a few seconds. Check out what it can do after the jump.
It's a wealth of scientific knowledge compiled so far from public knowledgebases, and is available to anyone curious enough to look up their question. Because findings and details are constantly added to the project, it is increasingly an important resource of quick, reliable information.
According to the website, "Timetrees are used widely in research in evolutionary biology and other fields...to explore the tree of life with the best scientific estimates of two critical factors: the historical order in which the different lifeforms branched off in new evolutionary directions on the tree of life -- the phylogeny factor -- plus the number of millions of years ago when these branching events occurred -- the timescale factor."
The Timetree of Life project already has an online resource and a reference book. Now there's an app. And the best part is all this information is completely free -- the app doesn't cost a penny.
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