Trouble is, a lot of that information is hidden behind paywalls or scattered across random sources where the general public can't easily get to it.

That's where you come in.

The Encyclopedia of Life is hosting a challenge. The goal: bring information about animals, plants, fungi, protozoa, and bacteria to the world. Readers are asked to research and write short descriptions of some of nature's most fascinating species. Those descriptions will be reviewed by curators for inclusion in the Encyclopedia of Life — a crowd-created, open-source effort to make scientific information about the world we live in available to all the people who live in it. And here's the kicker: the best descriptions will earn their writers a place in history — a private behind-the-scenes tour of the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of Natural History is up for grabs.

Humans have probably been naming things and making lists since our earliest ancestors began to separate "Stuff That Tastes Good" from "Stuff That Killed That Other Guy That One Time". But taxonomy, as we know it today, really began in the 18th-century, when Carl Linnaeus started assigning Latin names to different plants and animals and organizing them into a hierarchy where humans (the obvious pinnacle of creation) lorded over the rest of of the Earth.