Powers of Life

[Comic: Powers of Life]

Dan says:

very cool!

is "closely related" as measured by evolutionary divergence, or genetic similarity, or what? are there phenotypically meaningful ways to say that fungi are more animal-like than plant-like? from the outside, they seem awfully planty, with the whole staying put and growing in place and not having a nervous system and being tasty even when raw thing.

one funny thing about your diagram is that the level of detail in our branch is much higher, even in the zoomed-out view, which of course is because you don't want to make this incredibly complicated bushy tree of anonymous unlabelled branches, but it still gives the impression that our branch is more special. (I don't know how to fix that.)

I love the style of the drawings.

Madeleine says:

Hi Dan!

Yes... order of evolutionary divergence as predicted by genetic similarity. I based it mostly on the tree of life webproject: http://www.tolweb.org/tree/ but also spent some time browsing Wikipedia -- especially in the mammalian level tree. (eg. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Laurasiatheria ) ... a lot of this looks like it's still up in the air on this level of the diagram.

The fungus placement as closer to animals seems pretty well agreed upon, though. I can't really think of any offhand ways fungi are more similar to us phenotypically. They're not green, I guess. :-)

The divergence was before multicellularity, so it's not that surprising that there's little phenotypic similarity. Perhaps it's easier to say that they're at least as different from plants as they are to us.

amy says:

so great. thanks!

can I suggest that "insects" should have more weight and white space like bacteria, mammals, vertebrates ?

NJslacker says:

there are a few mistakes in your mammalia branches. Bats should be listed as branching off of just before the primates branch, as both primates and chiroptera are both members of the clade archonta. Also, bonobos are more genetically similar to humans than chimpanzees.

Madeleine says:

As I noted, the mammalian tree is still being resolved.

From wikipedia: "Genetic analysis has suggested that the bats are not as closely related to the other groups as previously suspected. A revised category, Euarchonta, excluding bats, has been proposed." This leaves bats unseated; I followed the classification on the the Laurasiatheria page, although the Pegasoferae also looks to be lacking evidence as well, especially with respect to horses (which I hadn't realized when making the tree).

According to the Tree of Life webproject and the Hominidae wikipedia page, Bonobos are clustered with Chimpanzees.

Adje says:

Hello Madeleine,

I stumbled upon this page! Beautiful tree even if it isn't to scale, sometimes it's nice to remember that there is beauty behind the science and that rigor can be overrated :)

I read your other comics and I've got to say I'm impressed, the web need more comics like this! Keep it up!

Anjey Sverlow says:

Excellent comic for intellectuals.

I like the slide with the family tree of bacteria.

Madeleine says:

Thanks for the nice responses, I'm glad to hear so many people enjoyed this!

Brian Koberlein says:

Absolutely awesome.

I love the use of color, and the simplicity. This is SO going on my office door.

justin Bradford says:

This is great! I'm going to print it out, as well.

You should consider creating some products (eg. http://www.zazzle.com/custom/home) with it. I know I'd buy some things.

rems says:

These images animated in flash, where you could zoom in and out of different family branches, would be nice with all the other groups updated aswell :)

Fiona says:

This is beautiful. It's like a taxonomist's "Powers of Ten".

david says:

Beautiful drawings and they definitely get the idea(s) across.

One picky point, the bottom drawing (the big tree) is drawn with a root. It is usually drawn rootless because there are no known organisms down there.

Rob says:

I loved this one! It's simple and beautiful. Update more!

Josh Yelon says:

You missed a frame:

clarencegirl says:

Well that certainly puts me in my place!! :-))

mushi music says:

Nice job! I've always pictured this as veins in an arm, with more complicated species at the fingertips and bacteria at the shoulder/neck. That still leaves room to travel back to the heart, right? Go watch or read "Mushishi". It uses magical realism to explore the concept of what lies before the "root". Maybe a bit unrealistic, but still an entertaining speculation.

Michael says:

Very nice. Looks pretty up to date, too.

Ethan Hein says:

Sensational visualization. Someone should give you a grant to paint these all over the place. I reblogged this on Flickr, hope you don't mind, it's been a big hit:


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