There are thought to be about 10 million distinct species of plants and animals on Earth. That number is incomprehensibly large, not least because most species are still undiscovered. But now the Biodiversity Heritage Library, an open-access repository for some of the most stunning images collected of life on Earth, is helping to make these ecological wonders all the more real: It’s made more than 2 million images of our planet’s biodiversity available online for free. Anyone can explore the expansive collections, study the digitized materials, and even download the images for whatever scientific—or artistic—project you have in mind.
But still others are tinged with existential darkness, like an old black-and-white photo of the American bison, the image of a slain eagle, or renderings of other endangered species. They’re another reminder that many scientists believe we’re in the midst of a great extinction, during which huge numbers of species …
READ MORE ON SLATE.COM