Now, this right here is just a beautiful thing. It is beautiful for many reasons including:
- It represents a very small but significant part of what we have painstakingly learned about the world we live in.
- It helps us come to a better understanding of where we fit in that world.
- It is readily accessible factual information offered free of charge for no other reason than a desire to advance human knowledge.
Some interesting tidbits:
Typhlonectes natans, who resides just counterclockwise of us, is none other than the rubber eel (commonly seen in pet stores). Our neighbor on the other side, Mus musculus, is your standard house mouse (commonly seen chasing 50s housewives up onto dining chairs).
The diagram comes out of the analysis of small subunit rRNA sequences sampled from about 3,000 different species.
The number of organisms represented in this enormous sampling is approximately the square-root of the number of species believed to actually exist on our planet.
Credit for this wonderful work goes to David M. Hillis, Derrick Zwickl, and Robin Gutell from the University of Texas.
You can download a 370KB .pdf file of the entire shebang as well as the simplified version shown here at the link posted above or you can just get interactive.