Evolutionary diagrams form a major graphic element in museums and other informal science settings. The tree of life graphics collected here are from exhibits in natural history museums, science centers, zoos and aquariums that were shared as part of a review of museum trees conducted by Teresa MacDonald, Director of Education at the University of Kansas Natural History Museum as part of the Understanding the Tree of Life (UToL) project.
This tree collection demonstrates the diversity of graphics that visitors might encounter in a museum setting, emphasizing varying artistic presentations of evolutionary trees. The collection includes a wide range of depictions from exhibits of varying ages; as a result, some trees are outdated and are not in line with current thinking of evolutionary relationships or with how those relationships should be portrayed. Our page on Tree Design Tips gives a summary of important dos and don’ts for designing trees that are easy to interpret.
To learn more about our study of evolutionary trees used in informal science exhibits, and the potential implications of how trees are presented that may support or hinder visitors’ understanding of evolution, click here for a paper presented at the NARST 2010 conference and here for a 2012 paper in Evolution: Education and Outreach.
Trees can be explored by general taxonomic category using the links below. Click on any thumbnail image to see a pdf enlargement.
- Broad categories (e.g., all life)
- Other taxa (e.g., viruses, plants)
- Vertebrates: Humans
- Vertebrates: Horses
- Vertebrates: Dinosaurs and/other extinct reptile groups
- Vertebrates: Fish
- Vertebrates: Other