New initiative traces the beginning of species’ life on Earth

June 1, 2009

By hammersmith

[Source: PennState] – Beginning this week, scientists and nonscientists now have easy access to information about when living species and their ancestors originated, information that previously was difficult to find or inaccessible.

Free access to the information is part of the new Timetree of Life initiative developed by Blair Hedges, a professor of biology at Penn State University, and Sudhir Kumar, a professor of life sciences at Arizona State University. The Timetree of Life project debuted this week with the simultaneous release of a major online resource called “TimeTreeWeb” (, and a book titled “The Timetree of Life” (Oxford University Press), which is written by a consortium of 105 experts on specific groups of organisms and is edited by Hedges and Kumar. Nobel laureate James D. Watson, co-discoverer of the structure of DNA, comments in his foreword to the book, “I look in wonder at The Timetree of Life, at the breadth of life that it covers, and the extraordinary data presented in it.”

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