Map of life expectancy at birth from Global Education Project.

Monday, September 21, 2015

You may become obssessed .. .

. . . with the open tree of life. The link leads to a page which you may find to be unprepossessing, but it is in fact the very broad outline of the evolutionary relationships among the three major kingdoms of the terrestrial biota. On the left is a node labeled "cellular organisms," which represents the last common ancestor. You will then see three more levels -- bacteria in the middle, archaea at the top, and scroll down for the eukaryotes. Click on a node and it expands to show the relationships further out on the tree, and of course you can keep going.

Want to find yourself? Click as follows: Eukaryota --> Holozoa --> Metazoa --> Bilateria and Placazoa --> Deutorostomia and Protostomia --> Tunicata and Chordata --> Vertebrata --> Euteleostomi --> Tetrapoda --> Amniota --> Mammalia --> Theria --> Eutheria --> Euarchontoglires --> Primates --> Happlorhini --> Simiiformes --> Cattarhini --> Hominidae --> Homininae --> Homo.

But you can digress anywhere along the way. This is dry stuff I suppose, and you won't know what most of the words mean, but they have a lot of other resources to explore. Just click around! Check out the blog, and the more accessible educational sites under construction.

This is put together from innumerable studies and is always growing. Right now it lists 1.8 million species, and all of their proposed evolutionary relationships. It took more than 3 billion years for all this to happen, but we've figured a lot of it out.

Aren't you lucky that you have the curiosity and imagination to understand and explore this, and don't have to live in the narrow, cramped world of creationists? This is the truth folks, and it's wondrous.

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