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In this lesson, students will examine a beautiful tree of life poster by artist Ray Troll and use it as a launchpad to explore evolutionary, or phylogenetic trees. Students will take a pre-assessment to address misconceptions about phylogenetic trees before completing a modeling activity to give them a better understanding of how trees are used to model evolutionary relationships.
Shape of Life
Correspondence to the Next Generation Science Standards is indicated in parentheses after each relevant concept. See our conceptual framework for details.
- An organism's features reflect its evolutionary history.
- All life forms share fundamental similarities. (LS4.A)
- Anatomical similarities of living things reflect common ancestry. (LS4.A)
- Scientists use multiple lines of evidence to study life over time.
- Scientists use anatomical features to infer the relatedness of taxa. (LS4.A)
- Evolutionary relationships may be represented by branching trees (i.e. phylogenies or cladograms).