Tree of Life

Posted By: Margie Babon



People keep on saying that we are all connected in a tree of life. We are all connected to animals, plants, even with tiny insects. But what is exactly the tree  of life when it comes to Biology subject matter because tree of life is also discussed in different religion.

Scientifically speaking, the tree of life is about the evolution of living things and its relationship which are classified in different group.  Charles Darwin in his book Origin of the Species illustrated it in a branched-diagram like a tree. The study of structures of living organisms and fossils has allowed scientists to work out in detail how they are related to each other.  This knowledge has been gathered over many decades, and new life forms are continually being discovered—both living and extinct. The evolution of life on Earth is like a railway network, with new branch lines splitting off and diversifying by forming sub-branches.

Below is a Tree of Life diagram in a very simple presentation yet clear to understand. (Zoom the picture for a lager view.) Forgive my quick illustration, I draw this without any ruler.

Tree of Life copy

  • Commonly used classification schemes divide all life into five kingdoms.
  • Kingdoms contain subgroups called phyla, and below phyla there are further subgroupings such as classes, order, and species.
  • If a complete tree of life were to be drawn, it would have tens of millions of endpoints, each representing a species of organism.
  • The number of discovered and undiscovered living species of insects is estimated at between 6 and 10 million.

PHYLUM: A major division of a kingdom of living things. The animal kingdom, for example, consists of many phyla. The level below a phylum is a class, so the animal phylum chordates, for example, includes the classes of mammals, amphibians and reptiles.


“From the first growth of a tree,  many a limb and branch has decayed and dropped off; and these fallen branches of various sizes may represent those whole orders, families, and genera which have now no living representatives, and which are known to  us only in a fossil state…As buds give rise by growth to fresh buds, if vigorous, branch put and overtop on all sides many a feebler branch, so by generation I believe it has been with the great Tree of Life, which fills with its dead and broken  branches the crust of the earth, and covers the surface with its ever-branching and beautiful ramifications.”

 –Charles Darwin, On the Origin of Species


Humankind has not woven the web of life. We are but one thread within it. Whatever we do to the web, we do to ourselves. All things are bound together. All things connect. –Chief Seattle



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