In 2014, artist Jane Kim was commissioned to paint a mural of 270 representative bird species — including some extinct species, a few dinosaurs, and a black caiman — on 3,000 square feet (280 square meters) of wall space at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology‘s Visitor Center… that’s 243 bird families and 375 million years.
A selection of mural facts from this up close interactive version:
- The Wall of Birds represents the 243 currently recognized bird families. The total number of families fluctuates as new genetic evidence comes to light.
- There are 21 extinct species depicted in grayscale along the staircase, covering a span of about 350 million years. Five additional species are shown on the world map where they lived before humans drove them to extinction.
- The black caiman is on the wall at the foot of the stairs to remind us that crocodilians are the closest living relatives to birds.
- The birds on the wall are life-sized. The interactive was designed so that when viewing the mural at maximum zoom, the birds on the screen will also be life-sized. This works best for screens which display images at a resolution of 72 px/in (28 px/cm).
- The photo of the mural is a composite of more than 750 individual high-definition photographs stitched together into a 2.34 gigapixel image (71,000 by 33,000 pixels). The image was divided up into almost 50,000 tiles for display on the web at multiple zoom levels.