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Encyclopedia of Life

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Scientists are creating a giant public Web site to catalogue all living things on Earth. It’s called the Encyclopedia of Life, and the Field Museum is part of the effort. Chicago Public Radio’s Lynette Kalsnes reports.

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The Field Museum’s Mark Westneat says the new Web site could become the “Google Earth for biodiversity.” School kids and researchers will be able to look up everything from polar bears to worms.

Westneat says scientists plan to start by listing the 1.8 million species they already know about.

WESTNEAT: But the number must be 10 times that, that are out there, that we don’t know. So this is really the first step toward truly understanding our planet, toward understanding what lives on this planet with us. And we really need to know that before we can take wise steps on things like global warming.

He says the site should help communities decide what’s most important to conserve.

It will include maps, photos, and videos. Just listing the known species could take 10 years.

I’m Lynette Kalsnes, Chicago Public Radio.

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