The Tree of Life: A Genealogy of Earth’s Organisms


Painting by Marilyn Brinker

Since the introduction of Darwin’s theory of evolution through natural selection, the genealogy of life has been visualized and described as a grand, branching tree. We’ll explore the use of the tree metaphor in evolutionary biology, some of its common misconceptions, and how tree diagrams are used (and abused) in communicating evolutionary relationships.

We’ll also look at our current understanding of the major groups in the tree of life, and examine some of the current philosophical controversies surrounding the methodologies used to generate trees and their application in other areas of biology.

Featured Faculty

Kirsten Fisher, Assistant Professor of Biological Sciences at CSU Los Angeles

Faculty Moderator

Charley Knight, Associate Professor of Biological Sciences

Sponsored by

Department of Biological Sciences, California State University, Los Angeles

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Tree of Life Event Photos on Flickr