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Tree of life – amazing animation…

Phillip Torrone

Editor at large – Make magazine. Creative director – Adafruit Industries, contributing editor – Popular Science. Previously: Founded – Hack-a-Day, how-to editor – Engadget, Director of product development – Fallon Worldwide, Technology Director – Braincraft.



  1. anon says:

    Compare to Carl Sagan’s version in Cosmos (See it for free on Hulu. Choose the first episode and skip to about the 25M:30S mark). This has better animation and isn’t as linear as Carl’s is. (Sagan doesn’t even mention insects.)

    1. Anonymous says:

      Very informative in a short period of time, but I can see it as being misleading or mis-informative to someone unfamiliar with evolutionary biology. It has very nice graphics, though.

  2. Jess says:

    Haha, I still can’t believe this stuff is out there. Great animation, horrible science. They make it sound so simple, as if a bunch of chemicals shaken and stirred can become an animal. You’d have a better chance of mixing a bunch of paint and throwing it on the ceiling to create the Sistine Chapel; it ain’t gonna happen.

  3. Steve P. says:

    Jess (and other evolution skeptics),
    If you’re interested in learning why evolution is not only plausible, but a highly supported testable model with predictive powers useful for future research and discoveries, I recommend reading “Why Evolution is True” by Jerry Coyne.

    If you’re skeptical because you’re a Christian and think the Bible necessitates a young earth creationist view, I recommend Beyond the Firmament by Gorden J Glover. Read the reviews on Amazon if you’re curious, they describe the book better then I can. It’s highly recommended, even if you’re completely skeptical of evolution like I was when I started my reading on the topic. It’s the only book out of many I’ve read that was really useful for me in combining my Christian faith and scientific understanding in a cohesive and useful whole.

    Sorry to jump off topic, but the video was a good (if highly simplified) picture. I’d just like to raise the level of discourse and understanding on this topic above the 5 minute video clip and quick rebuttal talking points level. Books FTW ;-)

  4. alandove says:

    I wish they could have mentioned plants, but otherwise this is a very nice way to compress this mind-boggling stretch of time into a few minutes.

    On the creationist discussion, I’m glad to see books getting a good plug. For me, the most baffling thing about the creationist position is how anyone who believes in an omniscient God could “credit” such a being with creating the forms of life we see today. Study biology for awhile, and you’ll see that it’s absolutely full of bad engineering, incomplete assembly, and shoddy workmanship. If God designed the gastropod digestive tract, the human knee, and the reproductive system of Plecia nearctica, then God is a moron. Creationism, in other words, is heresy.

    1. cyenobite2 says:

      Shoddy, moron, heresy – Stop holding back alan, tell us what you REALLY think :)

      But I’ll take the bait… What is it about the “human knee” that you find below design standards?
      I see a joint that lasts the lifetime of the ‘product’ that generally doesn’t need any maintenance or adjustments – that seems to me to be pretty good design (with a few exceptions).

      Also do you think it fair to pick one element out of the entire human body (the knee) and claim “poor workmanship” when you look at the incredible “design” of the body as a whole?

  5. Jess says:

    Thanks for the book recommendations. The absolute BEST book I’ve read on the subject (just finished it this past weekend) is Not a Chance –

    It’s a great treatment of the misanthropomorphizing of “chance” and how giving chance causal power erodes the very foundation of science. Speaking of chance, you’d do better to mix up a bunch of paint and throw it on the ceiling to recreate the Sistine Chapel than think you could shake up a bunch of inert minerals and get life in the most simple form, let alone anything higher up.

    I’m also working my way through The Origin of Species currently; it’s very dry, but I’m determined to finish it.

  6. alandove says:

    @shoddy I see you’ve never had knee problems. Just wait. That joint seldom lasts the lifetime of the organism without some kind of trouble, and it’s not an isolated example at all. Don’t get me started on backs. In fact, the whole bipedal locomotion thing is kind of a train wreck. Why don’t we just have four legs on the ground, and two additional ones for moving and grasping things? The simplest explanation is that we didn’t develop rationally – we adapted what used to be our front legs into arms. Meanwhile, I notice you’ve completely ignored my other two examples. Care to explain the divine elegance of snails pooping on their own heads, or love bugs having to live their adult lives cemented _in flagrante_? “Shoddy” is being kind.

    Meanwhile, @Jess continues to repeat the same tired creationist tropes. Your analogy is flawed, of course. If you threw a mixture of paint onto the ceiling once, you probably wouldn’t get the Sistine Chapel. If you did it a few hundred million times, though, you’d quite likely get a bit of the picture here, a bit of it there. And if you had some mechanism for preserving the good parts (let’s call it “selection”), you’d get the whole thing surprisingly fast. Try to read Darwin with an open mind.