www.ucmp.berkeley.edu

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This issue of the UCMP News focuses on our website—its special projects, new features, surprising statistics, and next steps. More than ten years ago, the site began as an “interesting experiment in technology“ by graduate students David Polly and Rob Guralnick. Thanks to the contributions of numerous graduate students, faculty, and staff through the years, the site has grown to over 5,000 pages in length and it has retained its award-winning status throughout. Now under the guidance of webmaster Colleen Whitney, the site continues to expand and to move in new directions, enabling UCMP to share its science with the world.
Now, to share our website with you, we begin by answering a question:

What about the Mollusks?
Not long ago a visitor wrote this question in the UCMP Web site guestbook:

Hello. I’ve been a regular visitor to this site for about two years. It’s a very good site, but I wonder why it takes so long to be updated. Do you ever plan on finishing the Mollusc section?

Perhaps it’s time to answer this excellent question. Why does it take us so long to complete particular sections of the exhibits?
Let’s start at the beginning. The group of student volunteers who initiated the site had a wonderful vision of what the site could become. They created the basic framework of three virtual exhibit halls (phylogeny, geology and evolution), and began filling in pieces as they had time and energy.

  Exhibits under construction sign

The magnitude of that framework is part of the reason that exhibits may seem slow to develop. For example, the phylogeny section of the site is about “the ancestor/descendant relationships which connect all organisms that have ever lived.” If you think of the “tree of life“ as a trunk, main branches, ever-smaller branches, and thousands and thousands of twigs and leaves, the concept of trying to describe the incredible diversity of life through time is gargantuan. Exhibits, some more detailed than others, have been created to cover most major “branches“ of the tree, but there are still incomplete sections, particularly at the finer levels of detail. It’s much the same in the geology and evolution exhibit halls. Piece by piece the exhibits halls are being fleshed out, but it’s a complex and enormous vision!

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