Homologous tetrapod limbs (2 of 6)
Notice how these tetrapod limbs are similar to one another: They are all built from many individual bones. They are all spin-offs of the same basic bone layout: one long bone attached to two other long bones.
Homologous tetrapod limbs (3 of 6)
Whales, lizards, humans, and birds all have the same basic limb layout. But how did such different animals wind up with the same sort of limb? The answer is that they inherited it from a common ancestor, just as cousins might inherit the same trait from their grandfather.
Homologous tetrapod limbs (4 of 6)
This evolutionary tree shows the relationships between different tetrapod lineages, all of which evolved from a single common ancestor. This 350 million year old animal, the first tetrapod, had limbs with one long bone (the humerus) attached to two other long bones (the radius and ulna). Its descendants, including whales, lizards, humans, and birds, as well as many others, inherited the tetrapod limb from this ancestor.