Tree of life

What is the Tree of life?

The Tree of life is an evolutionary tree showing the genealogy of all organisms changing through time. 

The branching displays different species descending from common ancestors. The tree is connecting all organisms, from the smallest microbe to the largest plants and vertebrates.

Charles Darwin famously sketched the branching structure of an evolutionary tree of life in his notebooks.

A tree is a helpful for:

  • visualising interrelationships
  • exploring  patterns and processes
  • following the tempo and mode of evolutionary change.

The Tree of life is more than just a hypothesis upon which we hang our data and visualise the natural world, it is a tool encapsulating time, diversity, change, natural history and all of life on Earth.

Tree of life project

Find out more about researching  the Tree of Life at the Museum.

Tree of life PDF (162.3 KB)