Today's Dinos

Constructing a Phylogeny

A phylogenetic tree is a diagram depicting the evolutionary relationships between different species. Organisms connected by vertexes appearing higher up on this phylogenetic tree are more closely related.

In this resource kit, you collected observations about three animals that are more related than you might expect. Two of these animals are modern creatures: Penguin and Alligator. However, these two animals actually share a common ancestor with the last living dinosaurs!

Observe the phylogenetic tree above. Based on this diagram, which animal is more closely related to dinosaurs - the alligator or the penguin?

Does this diagram depict the sort of relatedness you would expect based on the evidence you collected during this activity?