tree of life on this site
phylogenetic tree of life available on this site serves to provide
the visitor with an easy-to-follow route through the major groups
of organisms, and the branching sequences between them. The lowest
taxonomic level on this tree, and therefore the root, is Metazoa.
The majority of this tree is a basic framework of how groups of
organisms are related, but certain branches are extended as an example
of how the tree proceeds to higher taxonomic groups. For example,
the Insectivora are one of 18 traditional orders of placental mammals,
and are used as the primary example of branching at a higher taxonomic
level in this tree. Due
to the potential size of a complete tree of life including all species
past and present, this tree currently comprises only extant taxa,
with a few major extinct groups included.
to navigate through the tree
navigate through the tree simply click on any highlighted branch leading
from a group of organisms (e.g., Arthropoda) to see how that group
bifurcates into finer branches. From there, click on another branch
or group to follow the proposed evolution further. To return to the
previous page of the tree simply click on the 'back' buttton or on
the returning highlighted branch. Only the latinised scientific names
label the tree's taxa, but the common names of the taxa on that page
are listed on the right hand side of the tree.
of the branches terminate well before the ordinal level. This is because
in its present form the tree is only basic framework, but as future
Edinburgh University zoology students complete suitable projects their
work will be added and linked to the tree, thus allowing a gradual blossoming
of the tree. As an example, currently following the tree through to
the mammals and then to the Eulipotyphla (traditionally Insectivora)
will illustrate how the tree operates at higher levels.