Thursday, January 7, 2010

Evolutionary Trees Paper

Had to read this paper for Invertebrate Zoology- great in that it's extremely informative and clarifies many misconceptions people hold regarding evolutionary trees. Abstract is below.

Understanding Evolutionary Trees

Charles Darwin sketched his first evolutionary
tree in 1837, and trees have remained a central metaphor in
evolutionary biology up to the present. Today, phylogenetics—
the science of constructing and evaluating hypotheses
about historical patterns of descent in the form of
evolutionary trees—has become pervasive within and
increasingly outside evolutionary biology. Fostering skills
in “tree thinking” is therefore a critical component of
biological education. Conversely, misconceptions about
evolutionary trees can be very detrimental to one’s
understanding of the patterns and processes that have
occurred in the history of life. This paper provides a basic
introduction to evolutionary trees, including some guidelines
for how and how not to read them. Ten of the most
common misconceptions about evolutionary trees and their
implications for understanding evolution are addressed.

1 comment:

John Latto said...

Thanks! That's a great article. There should be more papers like this that tell you some of the things you didn't know that you misunderstood. We'll return to a couple of these topics briefly but everyone should read this paper.