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Cladistics and Evolution

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Cladistics and Evolution

            The earth is a continually evolving sphere, composed of billions of different creatures – humans, bees, flies, ants, dogs, cats, crocodiles, birds, trees, vines, plants; the list is endless. The number is so vast that one lifetime would not be enough to be able to witness every single organism in full detail. Plus, there are of course trillions more of organisms so small they are virtually invisible to the naked eye. Each of these living things are different from each other that one would find it impossible to believe that they just might be related to one another.

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In science, there is always a need to be able to study every single thing that might be of interest to the researcher. And unfortunately, to a very dedicated scientist, each living organism is an interesting subject. But how to begin analyzing thousands and thousands of species? And how to rationale the great diversity found all around the earth?

Before going to that, one must first learn that Biology, the science that deals with living organisms, had a very slow and stunted growth.

Aside from the inadequate technology that would allow better understanding of different organisms, Biology also battled against several feuds, such as the beliefs and dogmas of the Church (Silver, 2000). Evolution is a concrete example of a Biological idea that was turned down and criticized over and over again by certain societies and groups of people (Silver, 2000). For some time, the study on evolution showed a very slow progress, until several evidences and techniques gave rise to new knowledge and a better understanding on the topic.

Cladistics is one of the tools used to help study and promote evolution. This technique was designed by Willi Hennig in the 1950’s as a way of species classification. In classifying, organisms can be packed into groups, creating an organized and systematic way of differentiating and comparing certain types of species. In cladistics this classification is done based on the organism’s ancestry. This way, organisms that are said to be from a common ancestor would be classified and grouped in a family called the clade (Kazlev, 2001). Cladistics is very much based on the evolution of the organism. This type of classification not only helps group families together, but also gives an idea on how the organism evolved through time, when did it branched out from its family, and what features did it develop that made it different.

A cladistics data can be seen in a diagram called the cladogram. This is a picture of lines, with smaller lines branching from different positions. The point on which a branch arises shows the common ancestor the two branches were derived from. This means that both organisms on the branches have a set of shared characteristics and features derived from a single origin (Kazlev, 2001). This suggests an evolution, on which an organism slowly changed through time, gaining or losing certain features that made it different from its fellows.

The popular use of cladistics in classifying and in many other studies strengthened the theories about evolution. It was able to provide concrete evidence on organisms evolving and branching out from their original ancestral beings. And most importantly, it was also able to suggest sufficient and logical explanations on the diversity of creatures in Planet Earth and how they came to be.


Kazlev, M.A. (2001). Cladistics, Phylogentic Systematics. Kheper Website. Retrieved May 08, 2008, from http://www.kheper.net/evolution/systematics/cladistics.htm

Silver, B.L. (2000). The ascent of science. New York: Oxford University Press


Cite this Cladistics and Evolution

Cladistics and Evolution. (2016, Sep 29). Retrieved from https://graduateway.com/cladistics-and-evolution/

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