The Phylogenetic Tree

The Phylogenetic Tree
Most of the animals in our world have not been around for a long time. In fact, 99.9% of all
organisms that have existed on our planet have become extinct. The phylogenetic tree is a way
for scientists to organize the different organisms that have existed through time and connect them
to their evolutionary ancestors. The concept of time is very difficult to wrap your mind around
but with some good visuals and an open mind we can explore this concept more deeply. For this
assignment we would like to incorporate some technology to help us understand the concept of
time and how different species have evolved over time. Phylogenetic images that we observe are
never complete because there is never enough room to fit all the organisms on the page. To truly
see the pathways we need something more interactive and recently there has been an effort
online to do just that. Two great examples are:
Key concepts:
The reason we classify living things in a branching structure is because, according
to Charles Darwin, all life shares common ancestry.
The branching tree shows the relative closeness or distance of living things to one
There were particularly significant stages in the development of animals, relating
to the development of a hollow body cavity, repeating segments in the body plan for
greater specialisation, the appearance of jointed limbs, formation of biting mouthparts
and jaws, the development of sense organs, insect wings, adaptations that enabled land
vertebrates to exist out of the water and being ‘warm-blooded’.
1. Explore the interactive trees and find some evolutionary links of interest to you. (Take
some time with this as there are many rabbit holes to get lost in)
2. Choose 3 - 5 connected organisms and do a bit more research on each taking down some
notes and gathering pictures (preferably profile).
i. If it is a generalization organism such as salamanders list the number of
species. Ex Salamanders and Newts (532 species)
ii. Record how many million years ago (Mya) it branched off.
Ex. Salamanders and Newts (532 species)
-branched off 246.4 Mya Triassic Period
3. Save your profile pictures to a folder on your desktop called “Phylogenetic Tree”. Try to
find pictures that are roughly the same size and dimensions.
4. Open the pictures and do any edits that are necessary to get them to the same dimensions.
5. Import the pictures into Squirlz Morph and create a morph of the organisms starting with
the oldest evolutionary organism and working to the youngest.
You guys are pioneers with this project and therefore the evaluation is going to be based on
completion. Hopefully you are able to learn something new about the evolution of species and
you can show your learning using technology. Good luck!
Figure 1. Animals
Figure 2. Plants