A Pipe Cleaner Model of Animal Evolution

The evolutionary tree shown here was drawn by Charles Darwin, a scientist who lived more than 150 years ago. It was Darwin, and another man named Alfred Russel Wallace that came up with the idea of natural selection, which is one of the ways that life evolves. Darwin wasn’t the first person to suggest that life evolves, the idea had been around for a while, but he was one of the first to use evidence to explain his observations about life.

This lesson isn’t about Darwin or natural selection, though—not directly, anyway! It’s about the trees—trees like the one that Darwin drew in his notebook to model evolutionary relationships.What are evolutionary trees, how do you make one, and what can they tell us about evolution?