- Tens of thousands of smaller trees have been published over the years for select branches of the tree of life—some containing upwards of 100,000 species—but this is the first time those results have been combined into a single tree that encompasses all of life. The end result is a digital resource that available free online for anyone to use or edit, much like a "Wikipedia" for evolutionary trees.
- A collaborative effort among eleven institutions, the tree depicts the relationships among living things as they diverged from one another over time, tracing back to the beginning of life on Earth more than 3.5 billion years ago.
- "As important as showing what we do know about relationships, this first tree of life is also important in revealing what we don't know," said co-author Douglas Soltis of the University of Florida. The paper was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
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