Wednesday, October 19, 2005

The Tree of Life

No, not that Qabbalah crap.

We're reading, with pleasure, Richard Dawkin's Ancestor's Tale, which describes what would happen if we walked back in time to meet our evolutionary ancestors: the great-grandparent who would become ancestor to both Homo sapiens (Homo insipiens?) and the Neanderthals, then further back to meet the ape who became ancestor to both us (all Homo species) and the chimpanzees, back to the creature that became ancestor to both apes and monkeys, and so on, back to the pond scum that became ancestor to all life on Earth.

This Chaucerian pilgrimage is a neat little way to survey evolutionary theory, and Dawkins tells enough tales along the road that it is no where near as dry as it sounds. That, and he has cautionary (almost threatening) footnotes to creationists who would misquote him and he includes biting criticism for American conservatives who wield nukuler power while having the IQ of a chimpanzee.

Anyway, we didn't set out to review the thing. We set out to find illustrations, because Dawkins's fragments of the ancestral family tree make it hard to see the structure of the whole. So here it is, the Tree of Life on the web.


  1. hate to say it, but that picture reminds me of a massive vagina. but that might just be me. percolator?

  2. Well, it is where all life came from...

    But we just don't see a vagina in the Rorschach blot.

    Of course, since percolator apparently has special talent in this area, we'll defer judgment.