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Lesson summary for:
Understanding evolutionary history: An introduction to tree thinking


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This pamphlet with self-quizzes provides students with a self-paced tutorial in tree thinking and corrects many common misconceptions about phylogenetic trees.

Laura Novick, Kefyn Catley, and Emily Schreiber

Grade level:

30 min - 1 hour

Teaching tips:
Students can be assigned this pamphlet as homework. If desired, instructors can collect the "Practice What You've Learned" for assessment. An in-class extension could involve holding a think-pair-share activity with additional similar questions in the next class period.

Correspondence to the Next Generation Science Standards is indicated in parentheses after each relevant concept. See our conceptual framework for details.

  • Present-day species evolved from earlier species; the relatedness of organisms is the result of common ancestry.

  • Evolutionary trees (i.e., phylogenies or cladograms) portray hypotheses about evolutionary relationships.

Teacher background:

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