On the Beauty of Nature

I’ve been neglecting the Astronomy Picture of the Day (see blogroll to your right) of late, but over the last few days I’ve been catching up.  Here’s water on Enceladus!  (Perhaps.) And here’s the sun going haywire!

However, my favourite science site recently has in fact been the awesome Encyclopedia of Life.  It’s an amazing global enterprise, which in similar fashion to Wikipedia, relies on input from mad zealots all over the world who take the time to write up detailed accounts of, eventually, EVERY SINGLE SPECIES ON EARTH.

This has been my background research for Red Claw – which features, would you believe it, an Encyclopedia of Alien Life, that’s even longer and more incredible than the earthly archive.  

So do take a look at the EoL, and feast your eyes on this bird, a peregrine falcon, and also on this amazing Frigatebird.  Or you might like to gawp at this ray-finned fish, or its fellows on the same page, or this Cora notaxantha Ris, aka weird insect.  Or this wonderful creature, which you can access via its complex taxonomy from Family to Superclass and via all the other taxonomic categories until you reach its genus and species – and hence, tracking it like a hunter in the jungle, you go from Animalia, to Chordata, to Mammalia, to Carnivora, to Felidae (Cats), and to Acinonyx, and finally, to jubatus, until you eventually discover it is a Cheetah.

This is a game anyone can play – all you have to do is photograph and taxonomise a creature that isn’t yet in the Encyclopedia. 

And eventually, when every single species is recorded and taxonomised and photographed, this will be one of the greatest achievements in the history of humanity. 

Until, that is, the xenobiologists come along…

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