Understanding Phylogenies: Terminology

Genius! Delicious genius!

I’m fairly used – now – to cladograms and phylogenic classification because of my long obsession with dinosaurs and animals as a whole, but I have to say that this takes it to a whole new level of awesome. And I am now tempted to do a UK version!


I was inspired several months ago by this tweet from Drew Lab in which they made a phylogeny of candy bars. Besides thinking, “what a delicious lab project,” I also thought it was an intuitive way to understand the basic evolutionary concept of how species (or candy bars as it may be) are related to each other. Candy bars are accessible in a way species are not; kids and adults, scientists and non-scientists alike understand candy and can debate how the candy bars are related to each other based on their tasty traits. Bringing us to an important point about phylogenies: they are debatable! Phylogenies represent hypotheses about how species are related to each other. Some phylogenies are well supported and even have multiple lines of evidence to support the tree topology such as molecular sequence data, morphological data, and fossil records. However, some phylogenies are not well supported and…

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