Atlas of Living Australia Media Release

The beginning of wisdom is to call a thing by its right name.” Chinese proverb

IdentifyLife was launched at 1.00pm on Thursday 28th July at the International Botanical Congress in Melbourne, a gathering of botanists from across the world. The IdentifyLife project is bringing together a huge range of identification keys into a free, web-based platform for indexing, searching and building identification keys, making identifications and managing descriptive data. See the website at

IdentifyLife consists of three components:

  1. Keys Central – a searchable index of identification keys to a wide range of living creatures, from aardvarks to zooplankton.
  2. My IdentifyLife – your space for getting involved; a personal home page and collaboration space where experts and enthusiasts can contribute keys, build keys and take part in projects and discussions.
  3. A Key to All Life – is building, over time, a flexible and powerful but simple key that can be used to identify any living creature from anywhere in the world.

“With the right name, the world’s treasure trove of information, from library books to web pages, becomes accessible. If you don’t know what something’s called, you can’t find out whether it’s poisonous or harmless, common or rare, a pest or an important native.” Dr Kevin Thiele, Director of IdentifyLife said.

“As a contributor, you can create your own IdentifyLife projects, or join other people’s projects. For example, one group of users may create a list of characters for ferns, another group may build an interactive identification key to the butterflies of Australia.” Kevin Thiele, Director of IdentifyLife explained.

“The world is full of extraordinary organisms, from trees, mammals and fish to diatoms, amoebae and bacteria. The IdentifyLife project is all about helping people to identify these living organisms.” Dr Thiele continued.

IdentifyLife provides the space, and users provide the knowledge, imagination and enthusiasm to use it for their own work while sharing their work with others. Once published online, the information from IdentifyLife feeds into the Atlas of Living Australia, an online encyclopedia of Australian biodiversity.” said Donald Hobern, Director of the Atlas of Living Australia.

Funding and support for IdentifyLife has come principally from the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, the Encyclopedia of Life, the Atlas of Living Australia and the University of Queensland.

For interviews or further information, please contact Lynne Sealie on 02 6246 5901 or 0419 876 370, Kevin Thiele on 0419 902 661 or Donald Hobern on 0437 990 208.

The Atlas of Living Australia is a national collaboration between the CSIRO, the Australian Museum, Museums and Art Galleries of Northern Territory, Museum Victoria, Queensland Museum, South Australian Museum, Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery, Western Australian Museum, The Council of Australasian Museum Directors (CAMD), The Council of Heads of Australasian Herbaria (CHAH), The Council of Heads of Australian Collections of Microorganisms (CHACM), The Council of Heads of Australian Entomological Collections (CHAEC), The Council of Heads of Australian Faunal Collections (CHAFC), Southern Cross University, The University of Adelaide, The Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry (DAFF), The Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities (SEWPaC).