Chapter

How Can We Reconstruct Evolutionary History?

Michel Laurin

in How Vertebrates Left the Water

Published by University of California Press

Published in print February 2010 | ISBN: 9780520266476
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520947986 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1525/california/9780520266476.003.0001
How Can We Reconstruct Evolutionary History?

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This chapter attempts to reconstruct evolutionary history. Inferring phylogenetic relationships between taxa and character evolution requires relatively sophisticated methods. The chapter describes several techniques and concepts widely used in modern evolutionary biology, first discussing the principles of nomenclature and then looking at modern phylogenetics and the use of cladistics to infer character history and phylogeny. Cladistics can be used to infer character history based on parsimony, a principle that requires as few character transformations as possible. The chapter also discusses the construction of evolutionary trees, paleontological dating of taxa, and molecular dating.

Keywords: evolutionary history; phylogenetic relationships; evolutionary biology; nomenclature; phylogenetics; cladistics; parsimony; evolutionary trees; paleontological dating; molecular dating

Chapter.  11222 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Evolutionary Biology

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