28 February 2011

The First Week of PhyloPic

I announced PhyloPic last week and the response has been great. I launched with ~95 images and we are already up to 170! (Possibly more by the time you read this.) Some of the lineages are becoming pretty complete. Some of the better ones:
For the last one, I made a special collage:

Evolution of the Human

(Click on it and check out the Flickr page to find an extremely high-resolution version.)

Of course, other areas of the Tree of Life are not quite so fleshed out. For example, if you look up a plant you'll usually get this. (Or even less if you didn't happen to pick a tracheophyte.) So there is plenty of illustrating left to do.

There is also plenty of programming left to do. You can see a list of major remaining tasks on PhyloPic's BitBucket page. Here are a few, with links to their pages:
If any of these interest you, I encourage you to vote for them by clicking the "Bump!" button:

And if you have any ideas, you can also suggest features.

At least one blog has created its own PhyloPic feature. Traumador at Art Evolved put together an excellent tutorial on creating silhouettes using Photoshop. (They also posted about PhyloPic here.) Blogger David Tana of Superoceras also awarded PhyloPic his Interweb Science of the Week award.

In summary, the project's going very well and I'm pretty excited about it. I can't wait to see what the rest of the year holds for PhyloPic!


  1. Great work, Mike, on putting this site together; and good to see the silhouettes starting to accumulate. Scott's alleged Brachiosaurus altithorax is much more like Giraffatitan brancai, though.

    I tried to submit a replacement, but the Submit page at http://phylopic.org/submission/ fails for me (Firefox 3.6.13 on Ubuntu GNU/Linux 10.10) -- I get a green screen with a static progress-bar thingy in the middle, and Error #2046 in a little box at the bottom.

    The lineage pages such as http://phylopic.org/name/5689/lineage/ would be greatly improved by adding the actual taxon name at each level, and by moving both that name and the attribution over to the right of the icons, so that the screeenspace is used more economically.

  2. Thanks, Mike.

    My guess is that you need to upgrade your Flash player. It should be failing more gracefully than that, though--I'll look into it.

    The lineage pages were a bit of an afterthought and could stand a lot of improvement. Thanks for the ideas!

  3. Looks like another possibility for Error #2046 is that your system time is off.

  4. Well, I installed this computer, brand new, about six weeks a ago, using a version of the operating system that is four months old. I doubt my Flash players is very out of date.

  5. I don't think it can be system time either -- I run ntpd, synced with Ubuntu's master server.

  6. Most puzzling. Well, until I can figure it out, feel free to email the image to me and I can post it.

  7. Uploaded the image here.

    I filed the bug here if you want to follow it.