26 January 2012

PhyloPic Is Back!

Last year, I launched a project called PhyloPic. The goal of this project was to create an open database of freely reuseable silhouette images of organisms. Furthermore, it featured a phylogenetic taxonomy so that, if a taxon wasn't illustrated, an approximation could be found.

I launched it as a "public alpha", meaning that it wasn't complete and still had some bugs. The year turned out to be very busy for me: an awful thing happened, and a wonderful thing happened. And I didn't really have time to push PhyloPic to the next level.

Unfortunately, I hadn't built it well enough in the first place. The architecture was not optimized, and the site became extremely slow and buggy. I took it offline, hoping to release a new version in short order, but it turned out to need a lot more work than I first thought.

Happily, it is now ready again!

16 January 2012

In Anticipation: The Evolution of the Raven, in Silhouettes

Any day now there will be a relaunch of a certain project I launched last year. (Just working through some technical details.) In anticipation of that, here's the evolutionary history of the Common Raven (Corvus corax), illustrated with silhouettes:

click to enlarge

A Proposal to Amend the PhyloCode

The draft PhyloCode has been in a pretty stable form for a while. But recently, there has been a proposal to drastically change how it handles species. You can read the proposal here: 

The first paragraph:

The overarching goal of this proposal is to remove all mention of "species" from the  PhyloCode. Detailed justifications for this goal are given in a supporting paper (Cellinese, Baum, and Mishler, in review); here we present a summary of the main arguments, along with specific proposals for change.

Before I weigh in on this, I'm curious as to what other people think. Please comment below, or send comments to David Marjanović, the Secretary of the Committee on Phylogenetic Nomenclature.

If anyone would like a Microsoft Word version of this document, just ask.

I have weighed in.