Encyclopedia of Life launched, prepare to wait in line

Like a tourist attraction on opening day, the Encyclopedia of Life today opened its site to the public, and was promptly swamped with visitiors.

The project was announced in May of 2007, and undertook the massive initial task of cataloguing every single of the 1.8 million living animal species upon the Earth today. The first 30,000 pages of data were unveiled this morning, and by midday, the site was inaccessible due to the heavy traffic it was seeing. As of press time, the site was still unreachable.

Philanthropic sponsors The John D. and Catherine T. Macarthur Foundation and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation contributed a total of $50 million to the fund the project, and it is expected to total $110.5 million in cost, and take another 10 years to build the complete database.

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After achieving its initial goal of cataloguing every animal, the site will grow to incorporate every plant, fungus, and microorganism on Earth.

The project already has support from the Biodiversity Heritage Library, a consortium of 10 of the world's leading collections of flora and fauna: The American Museum of Natural History, The Field Museum, The Smithsonian Institution, Harvard University Botany Libraries, Harvard University, Ernst Mayr Library of the Museum of Comparative Zoology, Marine Biological Laboratory of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute,The Natrual History Museum, Missouri Botanical Garden, The New York Botanical Garden, and The Royal Botanic Gardens --Kew.

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