14.1: The Lorax
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In Dr. Seuss’s “The Lorax” there is a quote that seems appropriate to begin my final chapter (Seuss 1971).
‘Mister,’ he said with a sawdusty sneeze,
‘I am the Lorax, I speak for the trees.
I speak for the trees, for the trees have no tongues.”
Comparative methods have been rushing forward at breakneck speed to “speak for the trees” for more than 20 years now. At the same time, we have gained more information about the shape of the tree of life than any time in the history of the planet. So, what have we learned so far? And what can we learn moving forward? Perhaps most importantly, how can we overcome the perceived and actual limits of comparative approaches, and enable new breakthroughs in our understanding of evolutionary biology?