In a whale-sized project, the world's scientists plan to compile everything they know about all of Earth's 1.8 million known species and put it all on one web site, open to the public free of charge.

The effort, called the Encyclopedia of Life, will include species descriptions, pictures, maps, videos, sound, sightings by amateurs, and links to entire genomes and scientific journal papers. Its first pages of information were shown May 9 in Washington, D.C., where the massive effort was announced by some of the world's leading scientific institutions and universities. The project will take about 10 years to...

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