The complete tree of life on a single page

Sep 16, 2016

OneZoom – UK Charity 1163559

For immediate release 15th September 2016

The complete tree of life on a single page

Charity ‘OneZoom’ unveils a beautiful and comprehensive guide to the evolution of life on earth, encompassing almost two million species. The freely available online resource aims to do for the living world what Google Earth has done for the physical world. All known complex life can now be found on a single web page,, whose release has been timed to mark the charity’s first anniversary. The OneZoom tree of life incorporates the latest studies on the relationships between living things, and their conservation statuses. The fractal display encompasses aardvarks to amoebas, the nervous shark to the nutty snailfish, and zebras (all 3 species) to the ZZ plant. In fact, there are so many species on the OneZoom tree, that if it were printed, the paper would span our entire solar system… at least sixty times over.


Screenshot from the OneZoom website


Key new features


  • 1.8 million species, each with their own leaf on the tree of life – essentially all known species except for bacteria and extinct creatures.
  • Over 100,000 different embedded images.
  • Over 750,000 common names for species in many different languages.
  • Based on the latest research updates this week from the Open Tree of Life project ( and the International Union for Conservation of Nature (


Development of these features has been made possible by the charity’s crowdfunding model, which allows individuals to sponsor leaves on the OneZoom tree, either for themselves or as a gift. “We are extremely grateful to all those who have sponsored species” said the OneZoom team “these donations enabled us to grow the site into what it is today whilst keeping it as an accessible community resource, free for anyone to explore”


The wildlife on our doorstep, our food, the diseases that plague us, and their cures ­ all these can be placed as leaves somewhere on the tree of life. The tree of life explorer website allows anybody to navigate seamlessly through them all.

Notes to editors



“Magnificent piece of software, brilliantly intuitive visualisation of the tree of life”

Prof. Richard Dawkins, University of Oxford

“The best interactive tree of life ever”

Prof. Jerry Coyne, University of Chicago


“One of the greatest inventions I have ever come across….”

Dr. Richard Lofthouse, editor of Oxford Today


“This will revolutionize how we teach and understand the Tree of Life.”

Prof. Joel Cracraft, American Museum of Natural History


… and many others, see

For more information contact

9 comments on “The complete tree of life on a single page

  • Roots



    2nd Law of Thermodynamics.


    autocatalytic chemistry


    RNA World


    prokaryote to eukayote transitions (neatly skimmed over in the main trunk of the diagram, and more significant than any other transition shown)

    and LUCA? Where can LUCA sit?

    There are indeed hints of some parallel activities bringing vital (sic) ingredients together. UV photo-chemistry in pools and thermo-chemistry in vents.

    Nick Lane “The Vital Question” covers much of the latter very well indeed.

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  • Pinball1970 #5
    Sep 20, 2016 at 7:42 am

    @4 I assume the roots mean the start, LUCA

    I think LUCA is on the main trunk.

    RNA world is the network of roots.
    One of the challenges in studying abiogenesis is that the system of reproduction and metabolism utilized by all extant life involves three distinct types of interdependent macromolecules (DNA, RNA, and protein). This suggests that life could not have arisen in its current form, and mechanisms have then been sought whereby the current system might have arisen from a simpler precursor system. The concept of RNA as a primordial molecule[9] can be found in papers by Francis Crick[12] and Leslie Orgel,[13] as well as in Carl Woese’s 1967 book The Genetic Code.

    Abiogenesis comes even earlier at an even more basic level of self replicating chemistry.

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  • PP

    That LUCA has a position on the trunk of the tree is certain but it is not the earliest living thing and its characteristics give rise to problems of labeling it. From wiki

    The most commonly accepted location of the root of the tree of life is between a monophyletic domain Bacteria and a clade formed by Archaea and Eukaryota of what is referred to as the “traditional tree of life” based on several molecular studies starting with C. Woese.[29] A very small minority of studies have concluded differently, namely that the root is in the Domain Bacteria, either in the phylum Firmicutes[30] or that the phylum Chloroflexi is basal to a clade with Archaea+Eukaryotes and the rest of Bacteria as proposed by Thomas Cavalier-Smith.[31]

    This though was music to Nick Lanes ear’s (announced here not long ago.)

    Research published in 2016, by William F. Martin, by genetically sequencing 6.1 million protein coding genes from sequenced prokaryotic genomes of various phylogenetic trees, identified protein clusters from amongst 286,514 protein clusters that were probably common to the LUCA. The results “depict LUCA as anaerobic, CO2-fixing, H2-dependent with a Wood–Ljungdahl pathway, N2-fixing and thermophilic. LUCA’s biochemistry was replete with FeS clusters and radicalreaction mechanisms. Its cofactors reveal dependence upon transition metals, flavins, S-adenosyl methionine, coenzyme A, ferredoxin, molybdopterin, corrins and selenium. Its genetic code required nucleoside modifications and S-adenosylmethionine-dependent methylations.” The results depict methanogenic clostria as a basal clade in the 355 phylogenies examined, and suggest that the LUCA inhabited an anaerobic hydrothermal vent setting in a geochemically active environment rich in H2, CO2 and iron.[21]

    So a prokaryote most likely from a hydrothermal vent….

    But still a lot came before emerging by degrees from non-life. The “soup” from which life emerged by degrees was the very definition of yummy. Anything approaching another start to life would have been a tasty snack for the already living…most probably

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