If you don't look like your close relatives, you may feel cut off from your family. You might even believe it was a sign that you were adopted when you were younger. Family relationships aren't always what they seem, as evidenced by a study. The family trees of many plants and animals are being turned upside down by new DNA technology.
Because of some similarities in our skeletons and brains, primates, of which humans are members, were originally believed to be close relatives of bats. However, DNA evidence now categorizes humans alongside other animals such as rodents (such as rats and mice) and rabbits. Surprisingly, bats turned out to have more in common with cows, horses, and even rhinos than humans.
Surprisingly, bats turned out to have more in common with cows, horses, and even rhinos than humans.
The branches of the evolutionary tree of life could only be determined in Darwin's time and throughout much of the 20th century by studying the structure and appearance of animals and plants. Life forms were categorized according to commonalities believed to have evolved together.
About three decades ago, researchers began building "molecular trees" using DNA data. The first trees created using DNA information often did not agree with traditional ones.
It was originally believed that animals without teeth such as sloths and anteaters, armadillos, pangolins (scaly anteaters), and aardvarks belonged to a group called edentulous.
Molecular trees showed that these traits evolved independently in different branches of the mammalian tree. It turned out that anteaters are more closely related to elephants, and pangolins to cats and dogs.
Darwin and his contemporaries were aware of another important set of evidence. Darwin observed that organisms with the most obvious common ancestry are often geographically close to each other. Another important indication that the two species are related is their geographic proximity; Species that coexist are more likely to share a common ancestor.
In the published article, studies were conducted on cross-referenced location and DNA data for a number of animals and plants. Evolution trees based on appearances or molecules were looked at for 48 animal and plant groups, including bats, dogs, monkeys, lizards, and pine trees.
Compared to traditional evolutionary maps, evolution trees based on DNA data were two-thirds more likely to match the location of the species. In other words, the old trees showed how the various species were apparently related. Unlike species that are linked by DNA, the research revealed that they are much less likely to coexist in close proximity.
It may seem like evolution is finding new answers almost endlessly. Animals can look surprisingly similar, as they have evolved to perform the same tasks or live in similar ways. Bony wings are used by birds, bats, and extinct pterosaurs for flight, but the ancestors of these animals all had forelimbs to walk on the ground.
Similar wing shapes and muscles evolved in different groups because the physics of pushing and lifting in the air are always the same. It's pretty much the same as eyes and just a few basic "designs" that may have evolved 40 times in animals.
Our eyes are the same as the eyes of a squid, with a crystalline lens, iris, retina and visual pigments. Squid are not as closely linked to us as snails, slugs, and oysters. However, most of the relatives of mollusks have rather simple eyes.
On at least four separate continents and branches of the mammalian family tree, moles have evolved into blind, burrowing species. The African golden mole (more closely related to ants), the Eurasian and North American rubble moles (which loves gardeners and is more closely related to hedgehogs than these other "moles") and Australian marsupial moles (more closely related to kangaroos) all evolved along a similar evolutionary path.
Origins of Evolution
Evolutionary biologists typically relied solely on appearance before the development of affordable and efficient genome sequencing technology in the 21st century.
Although Darwin (1859) did little to describe the tree's branches, he showed that in a single evolutionary tree all life on Earth was interconnected. The anatomist Ernst Haeckel (1834–1919) was one of the first to describe evolutionary trees, which sought to show the relationships between important groups of life-forms.
The brilliant depictions of living things in Haeckel's drawings dominated art and design in the 19th and 20th centuries. Pedigrees were based almost entirely on the appearance and embryonic development of these species. Most of his theories on relationships between species were accepted until recently.