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This tutorial on phylogenetics explains the basics of tree-thinking and provides many examples from real organisms.
This resource is available from the Peabody Museum of Natural History
Peabody Museum of Natural History
This article provides a brief introduction to phylogenetics. It would make a good opening reading for a unit in which students learn more about evolutionary trees and work with phylogenies.
- Biological evolution accounts for diversity over long periods of time.
- Through billions of years of evolution, life forms have continued to diversify in a branching pattern, from single-celled ancestors to the diversity of life on Earth today.
- Present-day species evolved from earlier species; the relatedness of organisms is the result of common ancestry.
- Scientists can test ideas about events and processes long past, very distant, and not directly observable.
- Scientific knowledge is open to question and revision as we come up with new ideas and discover new evidence.
- Scientists use multiple research methods (experiments, observational research, comparative research, and modeling) to collect data.
- Classification is based on evolutionary relationships.
- As with other scientific disciplines, evolutionary biology has applications that factor into everyday life.
- Evolutionary trees (i.e., phylogenies or cladograms) portray hypotheses about evolutionary relationships.