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Life Life
Bacteria Bacteria
Archaea Archaea
Eukaryotes Eukaryotes
Alveolates Alveolates
Stramenopiles Stramenopiles
Rhizaria Rhizaria
Excavates Excavates
Plants Plants
Green plants Green plants
Land plants Land plants
Vascular plants Vascular plants
Seed plants Seed plants
Gymnosperms Gymnosperms
Angiosperms Angiosperms
Opisthokonts Opisthokonts
Fungi Fungi
Dikarya Dikarya
Animals Animals
Porifera Sponges
Eumetazoans Eumetazoans
Bilaterians Bilaterians
Protostomes Protostomes
Lophotrochozoans Lophotrochozoans
Ecdysozoans Ecdysozoans
Arthropods Arthropods
Mandibulates Mandibulates
Deuterostomes Deuterostomes
Ambulacrarians Ambulacrarians
Chordates Chordates
Vertebrates Vertebrates
Jawed vertebrates Jawed vertebrates
Bony vertebrates Bony vertebrates
Sarcopterygians Sarcopterygians
Tetrapods Tetrapods
Amniotes Amniotes
Reptiles Reptiles
Archosaurs Archosaurs
Low-gc gram-positives
High-gc gram-positives
Hyperthermophilic bacteria
Hadobacteria
Cyanobacteria
Proteobacteria
Spirochetes
Chlamydiae
Crenarchaeotes
Euryarchaeotes
Ciliates
Apicomplexans
Dinoflagellates
Oomycetes
Diatoms
Brown algae
Radiolarians
Cercozoans
Foraminiferans
Diplomonads
Parabasalids
Heteroloboseans
Euglenids
Kinetoplastids
Glaucophytes
Red algae
Chlorophytes
Coleochaetophytes
Charophytes
Liverworts
Mosses
Hornworts
Lycophytes
Horsetails
Ferns
Cycads
Ginkgo
Gnetophytes
Conifers
Amborella
Water lilies
Star anise
Magnoliids
Monocots
Eudicots
Amoebozoans
Microsporidia
Chytrids
Zygospore fungi
Arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi
Sac fungi
Club fungi
Choanoflagellates
Glass sponges
Demosponges
Calcareous sponges
Placozoans
Ctenophores
Cnidarians
Arrow worms
Bryozoans
Flatworms
Rotifers
Ribbon worms
Brachiopods
Phoronids
Annelids
Mollusks
Priapulids
Kinorhynchs
Loriciferans
Horsehair worms
Nematodes
Tardigrades
Onychophorans
Chelicerates
Myriapods
Crustaceans
Hexapods
Echinoderms
Hemichordates
Cephalochordates
Urochordates
Hagfishes
Lampreys
Chondrichthyans
Ray-finned fishes
Lobe-finned fishes
Lungfishes
Amphibians
Mammals
Turtles
Lepidosaurs
Birds
Crocodilians
Algae Algae
Prokaryotes Prokaryotes
Protists Protists
Protozoans Protozoans
About this Interactive Tree of Life

Phylogeny is the organizing principle of modern biological taxonomy. A guiding principle of modern phylogeny is monophyly. A monophyletic group is considered to be one that contains an ancestral lineage and all of its descendants. Any such group can be extracted from a phylogenetic tree with a single cut.

The tree shown here provides a guide to the relationships among the major groups of extant (living) organisms in the tree of life. The position of the branching "splits" indicates the relative branching order of the lineages of life, but the time scale is not meant to be uniform. In addition, the groups appearing at the branch tips do not necessarily carry equal phylogenetic "weight." For example, the ginkgo [75] is indeed at the apex of its lineage; this gymnosperm group consists of a single living species. In contrast, a phylogeny of the eudicots [83] could continue on from this point to fill many more trees the size of this one.

The glossary entries that appear below the tree are informal descriptions of some major features of the organisms described. Each entry gives the group's formal scientific name, followed by the common name of the group. Numbers in square brackets reference the location of the respective groups on the tree.

It is sometimes convenient to use an informal name to refer to a collection of organisms that are not monophyletic but nonetheless all share (or all lack) some common attribute. We call these "convenience terms"; such groups are indicated in these entries by quotation marks, and we do not give them formal scientific names. Examples include "Algae" [134], "Prokaryotes" [135], "Protists" [136], and "Protozoans" [137]. Note that these groups cannot be removed with a single cut; they represent a collection of distantly related groups that appear in different parts of the tree. We also use quotation marks here to designate two groups of fungi that are not believed to be monophyletic. For more details see Tree of Life web project.

The above phylogeny updates an earlier version first provided by David Hillis, University of Texas, and is based on The National Science Foundation's Assembling the Tree of Life project. The on-line version was built for Sinauer Associates on Discover Life. A hard-copy version is in LIFE -- The Science of Biology and subsequent editions. The glossary terms link to pages on Discover Life that do not yet all conform to this tree.

Updated: 2014-10-20 13:40:55 gmt
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