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Published on Feb 18, 2009
Each feature of the living species at the tips of a phylogenetic tree can be mapped onto the tree to determine where evolutionary changes likely occurred. Then, at each branching point (or internal node), the features can be blended together to form am overall picture of what the ancestral species may have looked like.
In this video from the Peabody Museums Travels in the Great Tree of Life exhibit, the left hand side of the animation shows a phylogenetic tree of selected arachnids (spiders, scorpions, and their relatives); on the right hand side you can see an animation that shows what the ancestral species may have looked like at different points in the tree.
Travels in the Great Tree of Life" was produced for the Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History with the support from the U.S. National Science Foundation through the CIPRes and Angiosperm Tree of Life Programs.