"OSLO -- An online encyclopedia aiming to describe every type of animal and plant on the planet has reached 170,000 entries and is helping research into aging, climate change and even the spread of insect pests.
The 'Encyclopedia of Life' (www.eol.org ), a project likely to cost $100 million launched in 2007, says it wants to describe all the 1.8 million known species from apples to zebras within a decade.
'We're picking up speed,' James Edwards, EOL Executive Director based at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, said Sunday of the 170,000 entries with content in a common format vetted by experts. A year ago, it had 30,000 entries.
He said everyone from scientists to schoolchildren could use the EOL as a 'field guide' or contribute a photograph or an observation of an animal in an area where it was not found before, in some cases a sign of a changing climate."
Alister Doyle reports for Reuters August 24, 2009.