Life on Earth is one big extended family
click on the graphic above for a larger view
Leonard Eisenberg, a retired oil industry geologist, developed the site as a volunteer project for his children’s schools to help teachers educate their students about evolution. He created the infographic to counter the creationist themes he saw creeping into basic scientific curriculums. According to a 2011 survey conducted by Penn State University, 59 percent of teachers are wary of teaching evolution in the classroom for fear of the controversy it provokes. Worse still, another 13 percent of teachers dismiss evolution altogether, teaching their students intelligent design or creationism in their classrooms.
“I run into this even when teaching about Earth history, how life and the planet have changed through time,” Eisenberg recently told Business Insider. “By emphasizing the ‘family’ aspect of evolution, in a fun way with attractive art, EvoGeneao makes evolution less scary, more ‘family’ friendly, and easier for students to understand and teachers to teach.”
As Eisenberg explains on his website, the Tree of Life infographic is based on a human perspective, designed to give a simplified, yet insightful, picture of how life has evolved – and is evolving – on Earth:
This Tree of Life is drawn from the human, mammalian point of view. That is why humankind, instead of some other organism, occupies a branch tip at the end of the tree, and why our vertebrate cousins (animals with a backbone) occupy a large part of the tree. This falsely suggests that humans are the ultimate goal of evolution. In fact, if that asteroid or comet that hit the earth 65 million years ago and helped wipe out the dinosaurs, had instead missed the Earth, there might not be a dominant, tool-using, space-faring species on earth. Or if one evolved, it might be a dinosaur, not a mammal.
The biggest lesson, Eisenberg says, is that all life on Earth is “one big extended family!”