Christopher B. Sweeney

Content by Christopher B. Sweeney

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If a researcher is mapping out a tree of life for just 30 species, the number of possible arrangements is more than the number of stars in the known universe, said Mark Westneat, curator of zoology at the Field Museum of Natural History.

"For 100 species there are 10 to the 184th power of possible trees, and that's greater than the estimated number of atoms in the known universe which is about 10 to the 80th power," he said.