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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.
- Similarities among existing organisms provide evidence for evolution. (LS4.A)
- Anatomical similarities of living things reflect common ancestry. (LS4.A)
- Evolution does not consist of progress in any particular direction.
- Our understanding of life through time is based upon multiple lines of evidence.
- Scientists use anatomical evidence to infer the relatedness of taxa. (LS4.A)
- Evolutionary trees (i.e., phylogenies or cladograms) are built from multiple lines of evidence.
- Evolutionary trees (i.e., phylogenies or cladograms) portray hypotheses about evolutionary relationships.