Reconstructing trees: Parsimony
We just mentioned that the principle of parsimony is often useful in reconstructing evolutionary trees.
What is parsimony?
For example, we could compare these two hypotheses about vertebrate relationships using the parsimony principle:
This principle was implicit in the tree-building process we went through earlier with the vertebrate phylogeny. However, in most cases, the data are more complex than those used in our example and may point to several different phylogenetic hypotheses. In those cases, the parsimony principle can help us choose between them.
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