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In a flexible multisession laboratory, students investigate concepts of phylogenetic analysis at both the molecular and the morphological level. Students finish by conducting their own analysis on a collections skeletons using the Mesquite software.
Wilfred A. Franklin
two 3-hour sessions
The full activity requires access to a collection of skeletons representing the major phyla of vertebrates, a collection of primate skulls, or a collection of hominid skulls.
Correspondence to the Next Generation Science Standards is indicated in parentheses after each relevant concept. See our conceptual framework for details.
- Similarities among existing organisms (including morphological, developmental, and molecular similarities) reflect common ancestry and provide evidence for evolution.
- Evolutionary trees (i.e., phylogenies or cladograms) are built from multiple lines of evidence.
- The principle of parsimony suggests that the phylogenetic hypothesis most likely to be true is the one requiring the fewest evolutionary changes.