A Wikipedia for Fins, Feathers, and Fur


Ever return from a hike wanting to know more about the yellow-bellied Marmot, Golden Eagle, or American Dipper you saw along the trail? Typically that required consulting a reference book, or heading to the local library. But a new website called the Encyclopedia of Life wants to change that. Their goal is to create online reference pages for the 1.8 million species known to inhabit the Earth.

Last week organizers unveiled the first 30,000 pages, including 25 exemplar pages packed with photos, videos, and detailed scientific information compiled and checked by experts. These feature-rich pages can teach you about the life history of the Peregrine falcon,eol.org/taxa/16990688 or plot the distribution of the Yellow-fever mosquito. Created with backing and expertise from Harvard University, the Smithsonian Institution, and the Field Museum of Chicago, the Encyclopedia of Life aims to create reference pages for the remaining 1,790,000 species by 2017. But if you’re in a hurry to find out how long yellow-bellied marmots hibernate each winter, you can check out the Animal Diversity Web, an online database of species managed by the University of Michigan’s Museum of Zoology. The answer: From September to May. —Jason Stevenson