New Study Provides Graphic ‘Tree of Life’

The first draft of what’s being called the “Tree of Life” shows how all of the planet’s 2.3 million named species of animals, plants, fungi and microbes are related.

Researchers from 11 separate institutions created the detailed family tree of all creatures great and small, which shows how life evolved and diverged.

While tens of thousands of smaller “trees” have been published for specific branches of nature, this is the first time they’ve been combined to give an organized structure to all living things.

Understanding how species are related can help scientists discover new drugs, increase crop and livestock yields, and trace the origins and spread of infectious diseases such as HIV, Ebola and influenza, the researchers say.

The tree can be seen here.