Cladogram Definition

A cladogram is a diagram provided to stand for a theoretical relationship between groups that animals, referred to as a phylogeny. A cladogram is provided by a scientist examining phylogenetic systematics come visualize the teams of organisms being compared, exactly how they room related, and their most common ancestors. A cladogram have the right to be simple, comparing only two or three groups of organisms, or it can be enormously complicated and contain every the known develops of life.

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Cladogram architecture is universal, back simple. A cladogram consists of the organisms gift studied, lines, and nodes whereby those present cross. The lines stand for evolutionary time, or a series of organisms that result in the populace it connects to. Nodes represent common ancestors between species. In ~ some point in the past a populace of common ancestor organisms was divided, offering rise to the various organisms gift studied. Some cladograms present evolutionary time with the range of the lines, much longer lines meaning more time. Some cladograms made decision to show extinct species, while others omit them. Any details cladogram is formulated particularly for the usage it is needed.

A cladogram gets its name from the clades, or teams of biology that space displayed. A clade is a team of life organisms and also the common ancestor they are obtained from. Scientist usage synapomophies, or shared acquired characters, to define these groups. For instance, mammary glands space a shared characteristic that mammals. Every mammals and their oldest common ancestor, had or have mammary glands. Thus, if we room looking at an unidentified animal and trying to location it in a cladogram, if it has mammary glands we understand it belongs in that branch. Symplesiomorphies, through contrast, are personalities that all organisms in the cladogram have. If the cladogram consisting of the mammals was of every vertebrates, climate the existence of vertebrae in ours unknown pet would it is in a symplesiomorphy. Symplesiomorphies do not tell us anything around the relatedness of different groups in a cladogram, since all the organisms have (or had), that characteristic. A very straightforward cladogram the the vertebrates can be checked out below.


Scientists use cladograms to propose and ask questions about the evolution relationships in between different species. By providing weigh to obtained characters and recognizing ancestral characteristics, scientists deserve to compare various phylogenies that the same teams of organisms. Some will be an extremely complex, as characters will need to independently happen in many lines. Others will certainly be simple, or parsimonious, and will contain under changes between groups. Any collection of personalities can be offered to create a cladogram. DNA is the preferred method, together it is extremely accurate. However, prior to the work of DNA, scientists developed accurate cladograms using a selection of other traits. If the evolutionary relationships in between organisms cannot be figured out on any kind of one trait, combining the parsimonious outcomes of countless different properties will bring about the most more than likely phylogeny. The cladogram that describes this phylogeny will most likely be the most an easy and have the fewest nodes.

Examples that Cladogram



In the above cladogram the Primates, the various teams of primates being contrasted are provided on the top. The miscellaneous nodes on the diagram represent the various common ancestors between the groups. The Apes, the group containing humans, and also all the common ancestors (nodes) under to the shortest ape are considered a clade, or group of organisms with similar characters early to common descent. The clade might be prolonged to include everything except the Lemurs, Lorises, and also the shortest node. If this to be the case, the line resulting in lemurs would be thought about the outgroup, while the rest of the primates would be thought about the ingroup. These terms are just used to define different teams when discussing them in scientific writing.

Whales and Related Animals

Below is a much more facility cladogram that whales and also the animals they are connected to. Many much more groups room represented, under to genus and species in part cases. In this cladogram, bolder lines represent living species, while narrow lines represent extinct species from the fossil record. The numbers over each line stand for the variety of evolutionary transforms that had actually to take place in the branch native the genealogical form.


Looking in ~ the height box that Cetaceamorpha, this branch stand for Cetaceans (whales and dolphins) and their related ancestors. Until the discovery of the various fossils that bridge the gap between hippos and whales, the phylogeny that this tree remained in question. However, these fossils have started to close the gap in between hippos and also cetaceans, forming a series of little steps. Close to the top of the diagram, the number of evolutionary alters jumps from 1 or 2 come 9 or 10 in every step. This represents an evolutionary void that is still no understood. The genealogical forms that whales and also dolphins presented on this cladogram would have actually been shallow-water animals, as checked out by their sensible limbs. As the ancestors that whales moved further out to sea, it becomes less and less most likely that their fossilized remains will be found.

Many qualities were thought about in the production of this cladogram. For example, the outgroup Ferae is the only team that go not have actually some sort of hoof or large toes. In addition, the Ferae have specialized carnivorous teeth. The rest of the groups end up being distinguished on different acquired characters, such together humps in the camels, the visibility of a rumen in the Ruminantiaphorpha, and others. Whales room a specifically hard group to hypothesize about, because of the lack of fossil evidence and the substantial physiological difference between whales and also their closestly relatives. There is no limbs, for instance, that is difficult to understand that whale are related to animals with limbs unless some evidence is found to the effect. Luckily for systematics, brand-new methods that DNA analysis enable scientist to to compare DNA directly, causing a better understanding of just how organisms room related and how transforms happen between populations.

Interpreting Cladograms

In the adhering to cladograms, it appears as if two various phylogenies room being presented. In the cladogram top top the right, it shows up that A is more closely concerned C than in the cladogram top top the left. This is merely a cheat of presentation, but represents no an interpretation in terms of relatedness. These two cladograms do, in fact, represent a solitary phylogeny.


When developing or analysis cladogram, that is vital to remember that the only crucial features that the cladogram room the lines and the nodes. In these two cladograms, the lengths that the currently are approximately the very same and much more importantly, the nodes room in the very same places. In both diagrams, A and also B re-superstructure a node that is further away indigenous the beginning of the heat in the diagram. This tells united state that A and B are much more closely associated than C is to either group. The bespeak of A and B, and the orientation the the lines, does no matter. A cladogram may be drawn left to right, right to left, height to bottom, or bottom come top. Some big cladograms are also fashioned in a circle to include all the groups they represent. In part cladograms, evolution time in numerous years is represented to offer an approximation native the lengths the the lines.

Related biological Terms

Phylogeny – A theoretical relationship between organisms, represented by a cladogram. Symplesiomorphy – A characteristic that all organisms on a cladogram possess.


1. In the following cladogram, which groups are most carefully related?

A. Beetles and Ants B. Flies and Beetles C. Moths and also Flies

C is correct. Of these choices, moths and flies are the many related organisms according to this cladogram. The flies and also beetles space the the very least related, since they space separated through the furthest distance and variety of nodes. The beetles and also ants room closer, but according to this diagram it is the moths and also flies that most recently diverged and also share the most characteristics.

2. You are making a cladogram of fruit. You have actually 4 fruits: a banana, and orange, a red apple, and a eco-friendly apple. On figure alone, which of these is one outgroup, and which two belong top top the node furthest indigenous the start of the diagram? A. Orange; Banana and Red apologize B. Banana; Orange and also Red apple C. Banana; Red Apple and Green apologize

C is correct. Follow to shape and also appearance, the banana is the noticeable outgroup. Uneven the other three fruits, the is oblong and also not round. The two closest related fruits expand from the node furthest native the origin. Red and also Green apples are obviously more similar 보다 an orange, which has actually a completely different type of skin, allow alone color. This place the apologize in the place furthest indigenous the origin.

3. Look at the cladogram referenced in inquiry #1. I m sorry of the following qualities is a symplesiomorphy that the cladogram? A. wings B. A tongue to gather nectar C.

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Wings that fold under a tough shell

A is correct. All the biology in this cladogram have actually wings. Uneven DNA or fossil evidence show otherwise, it must be assumed that the wings originated ancestrally, and also that all the groups have since adapted their wings. Wing are because of this a symplesiomorphy. Wings the fold under a shell, however, is a shared acquired character the the beetles, making an option C a synapomorphy. Likewise, a tongue to gather nectar is a trait acquired by various groups of moths, butterflies, bees, and some flies. A nectar collection tongue is therefore likewise a synapomorphy.