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Infographic: The Tree of Life – Human Evolution Put in Perspective

Life on Earth is one big extended family


Tree of Life - Human evolution in perspective

click on the graphic above for a larger view

Based on the work of Dr. Richard Dawkins in his book The Ancestor’s Tale, this Tree of Life infographic from evogeneao.com colorfully demonstrates the evolutionary relationships of life on Earth.

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!”

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One comment

  1. The other models, which were formulated on the basis of fossils, archaeology, and genetics, involve an African origin for human evolution, the most well-known among them being the ‘Out of Africa’ hypothesis.

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