The second edition of the free online collaborative Encylopedia of Life (EoL) was launched on Monday. The second edition is vastly redesigned offering new features making it easy to use, to personalise and to interact with fellow enthusiasts worldwide.

It offers information on more than one-third of all known species on earth. It has twenty times as many pages of the EoL first edition which was launched two and a half years ago — from the original 30,000 pages in February 2008 to 700,000 pages now.

EoL second edition now contains more than 600,000 still images and videos. With the new interface, users can find species of interest even more easily. The EoL has a reputation of being the ultimate online field guide for citizen scientists. The best EoL photos are showcased online at Best of EoL Images.

While speaking about the EoL’s second edition, Jennifer Preece, Professor and Dean, College of Information Studies, University of Maryland said, “Not since the Biblical Noah has there been an effort like this to bring all the world’s species together." In addition to making it easy for scientists to compare and contrast information about life on earth, it has the potential to new insights into the mysteries of living nature.

Scientists say that the EoL second edition could help map vectors of human disease, reveal mysteries behind longevity, suggest substitute plant pollinators for a swelling list of places where honeybees no longer provide that service and foster strategies to slow the spread of invasive species.

The EoL now aims to build one infinitely expandable page for each species including video, images, sound, graphics as well as text.