Picture Wednesday: Evolution of Man | Day 276

German biologist, naturalist and artist Ernst Haeckel didn’t get everything right, but he did coin some common biology terms you have probably heard of, such as ‘stem cell’ and ‘ecology’.

Most notably, he came up with phylogeny – the science that studies evolutionary relationships between groups of organisms. You will probably recognise it from the metaphor of the “Tree of life.”

In its early days, this metaphor was quite literal. Ernst Haeckel himself, being an artist as well as a scientist, drew one of the first illustrations of the phylogenetic tree. Of course, it may not be entirely accurate since genetics has helped flesh out the picture, but it’s still a beautiful illustration. Click on the picture to admire it in full detail.

haeckel evolution of man
‘Evolution of Man’ by Ernst Haeckel, 1879 | From APS Museum, CC BY-NC 2.0

Are there any types of phylogenetic trees that you’ve seen and admired?

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