02 August 2010

Phun Phylogenies

Pete Buchholz recently started compiling a phylogeny of edible plants, based on the APG III system. I ran it through Names on Nodes and produced a diagram:

A Phylogeny of Edible Plants

(Unfortunately, this version strips out the clade labels—I'll try and rectify that at some point.)

When I saw this, I though, what a fantastic way to learn plant phylogeny! It's something I don't know much about (apart from basics, like the differerence between gymnosperms and angiosperms), and so I found it fascinating to see the ways the foods I eat are related to each other.

It's such a good idea, I couldn't resist doing another version for edible animals and fungi:

And this reminded me of another project I'd been meaning to start for a while, so I finally took a stab at it. A phylogeny of cartoon animals!

(That's right, there's a stuffed tiger clade.)


  1. Nifty trees. I made a version of the edible plant phylogeny a while back too (though less detailed). You should show the crazy hybridization within citrus since your cartoon animal tree shows the program's capable of it.

  2. I believe Pete is working on it :)

  3. Heh, I notice there's a food item called "long pig" in the second tree...

    Über-nerdy nitpick question on the cartoon animal phylogeny: Why do you have Woody Woodpecker and Woodstock as sister taxa? If it's the Peanuts character that we're talking about, then I'm pretty sure that it's supposed to be a passerine of some kind rather than a woodpecker. (This is the first official appearance of Woodstock, but there had been occasional appearances of other, more clearly sparrow/finch-like small birds in Peanuts before that.)

  4. In the second biology course taken at my school (basic overview of evolution and a survey of biodiversity), the professor had us make a phylogeny of all the Coke products. Pretty fun (albeit nonsensical).

  5. @Dartian, yes, I think that was a mistake. Somehow as a kid I got the idea he was a woodpecker. I always thought it was odd, since there are no yellow woodpeckers. I'll reclassify him into the passerines.

    (And yes, I feel I have to include anything where there is a special name for the meat, as opposed to the animal.)

    Phylogeny of Coke products? How would you even determine polarity? (Or was it unrooted?)

  6. Usually Sprite or some other non-Coke Coke product is used as an outgroup with classic Coca-Cola used as the common ancestor. From there traits like caffienation, loss of sugar, zero-cal, cherry, vanilla are assumed to "evolve." Like I said, it doesn't make a whole lot of sense - it's just a way to get freshmen thinking about evolutionary trees, parsimony, ancestral vs derived traits, etc.

  7. Hi Mike, just noticed this absolutely funny cartoon tree via the Smithsonian blog. Hey but where's Garfield??? Did I miss it somewhere? And on a "technicality" - should Teddy Bear be a node, branch or ludospecies name ?!

  8. Cool, didn't know they had linked to it!

    Garfield -- that's a big omission.

    What's a ludospecies? I can't find that term.

    "Teddy bears" would probably be a subclade of Ursus arctos (much like polar bears).

  9. Just kidding, Mike. I intended "ludo-species" to be a general referral to all the playful cartoon names there, as is ichnospecies for all the traits. "Ludo-" as explained in _Ludodactylus sibbiki_.

  10. Ah, "game species". Hmm, what about "graphospecies" or "iconospecies"?