Scientists at the Smithsonian and the Natural History Museum in London have officially taken on the herculean task of describing every form of life, everywhere in the world. If that sounds a touch on the ambitious side, it is, as there are one hell of a lot of different types of life on earth. That’s why researchers want you to pitch in. 

The “macroscopic observatory,” which is just in it’s inception, will eventually provide identification information, range maps and genetic information about every plant and animal on the planet. But scientists don’t want the project to just be the most comprehensive field guide to every part of the planet, even though it will be that too. 

More importantly, the database will provide researchers with an invaluable tool for tracking developments in the global biosphere. With input constantly pouring in from contributors all over the world, the massive online database will remain dynamic, allowing researchers to watch changes in climate and environment and how these changes affect not only overall populations but also behaviors like flowering times in real time. Interested parties will also be able to participate in more pragmatic research, like following the spread of invasive species more closely and coming to a better understanding of how agribusiness affects and farming affects existing environments.

While you can’t start contributing just yet, stay tuned to the Encyclopedia of Life site for details on how you can become a contributor or take over a page to curate in the near future.

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