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The Cartoon Guide to Vertebrate Evolution

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In which I discover the pain of drawing non-avemetarsalian archosauriforms (so many osteoderms!) and ungulates.

I like to think that the Big Vertebrate Tree is a useful resource, but it's not very user-friendly. As such, I have produced a simplified (yes, this is simplified) and more vibrant vertebrate cladogram.

Animals that have been colored in are extant species. Age ranges represent known fossil record and do not include ghost lineages. The animals placed along the branches (instead of at the tips) are all based on real taxa that approximate the likely ancestral morphology of certain groups, but I have left them unlabeled to prevent propagation of the misconception that we can identify whether said taxa are the actual ancestors of those groups. Absolutely nothing is to scale.

My apologies if I butchered the anatomy of or left out any of your favorite lineages. There were an immense number of groups and characteristics I included in my original outline that I had to cut out for considerations of space and time. Those who desire a more in-depth depiction at vertebrate phylogeny should consult the Big Tree and the technical literature.

I am more inclined to update this image than the Big Tree. However, it is still a massive project by my standards, so major revisions (if necessary) will likely be irregular. Suggestions and corrections are welcome.

Adventure Time-style Darren Naish was designed by :iconclassicalguy:. Special thanks go to :icondracontes: for helping me visualize ear evolution in therapsids.
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© 2015 - 2022 Albertonykus
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comixqueen's avatar

This is supremely adorable!