Understanding Evolution

The history of life: looking at the patterns

The central ideas of evolution are that life has a history — it has changed over time — and that different species share common ancestors.

Here, you can explore how evolutionary change and evolutionary relationships are represented in "family trees," how these trees are constructed, and how this knowledge affects biological classification. You will also find a timeline of evolutionary history and information on some specific events in the history of life: human evolution and the origin of life.

Cladogram of select 
vertebrates showing where certain characters appear

Download this graphic from the Image library.

 

View this article online at:
http://evolution.berkeley.edu/evolibrary/article/evo_03

Understanding Evolution © 2015 by The University of California Museum of Paleontology, Berkeley, and the Regents of the University of California