New Map of Earth's Animals

Naturalist Alfred Russel Wallace, a contemporary of Charles Darwin, constructed a map of the world's animals. Now that map has been updated, with new information gleaned over the past century about where the Earth's animal species live. It includes data on 20,000 species of mammals, birds, and amphibians.  

The global map data can be used to make regional maps on a smaller scale, not just the planetary scale shown above.The data can even be fed into Google Earth or a Geographic Information System program, the authors noted in the study published in Science Express.

The planetary map was divided into 11 realms, such as Neotropical and Sino-Japanese, and subdivided into 20 "zoogeograghic" regions. The unusual creatures of Madagascar got their own realm. Overall, the map data shows greater biological diversity in the Southern Hemisphere than in the Northern. Currently, only mammals, birds and amphibians are represented. Other classes of animals will be added as the data becomes available.

The new map made use of resources barely imaginable in Wallace’s time. Genetic analysis helped to define species in the modern map along with the classical anatomical descriptions Wallace used. It took 15 researchers and 20 years of data compilation to update Wallace’s original magnum opus of biological geography.

Read more at Discovery News, where the map is enlargeable. Link

(Image credit: Science Journal AAS)


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