phylogenetic tree

phylogenetic tree

Diagram showing the evolutionary interrelations of a group of organisms that usually originated from a shared ancestral form. The ancestor is in the tree trunk; organisms that have arisen from it are placed at the ends of tree branches. The distance of one group from the other groups indicates the degree of relationship; that is, closely related groups are located on branches close to one another. Though phylogenetic trees are speculative, they provide a convenient method for studying phylogenetic relationships and evolution. See also phylogeny.

This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise.
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