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Biology LibreTexts

Book: Phylogenetic Comparative Methods (Harmon)

  • Page ID
    21571
  • Detailed studies of evolution over short time-scales have been incredibly fruitful and important for our understanding of biology. But evolutionary biologists have always wanted more than this. Evolution strikes a chord in society because it aims to tell us how we, along with all the other living things that we know about, came to be. This story stretches back some 4 billion years in time. It includes all of the drama that one could possibly want – sex, death, great blooms of life and global catastrophes. It has had “winners” and “losers,” groups that wildly diversified, others that expanded then crashed to extinction, as well as species that have hung on in basically the same form for hundreds of millions of years.

    Thumbnail: Current tree of life showing horizontal gene transfers. Image used with permission (Cc BY-SA 4.0; Andrew Z. Colvin).