D.I.Y. Paraves Cladogram!

 

This is an interactive magnet board game. The board has the lines for the standard version of the Paraves cladogram, but the actual species are printed on magnets and can be moved around. The goal is to put each species in the correct spot on the cladogram.

A cladogram is essentially an evolutionary family tree. Look here for more information about cladograms and cladistics. This cladogram is for Paraves, the smallest evolutionary group that contains both birds and non-avian dinosaurs. Or, to put it in other words, the group that contains the most recent shared ancestor of both classic (non-avian) dinosaurs and birds. Basically, this family tree shows where birds split off the dinosaur family tree and continued to evolve in their own direction. This shows why it is correct to say that dinosaurs are not extinct, since birds are in fact a kind of dinosaur.

However, while the basic structure of this clade is pretty solid, the details are always in flux. In fact, a week before I finished this piece (and unbeknownst to me), some scientists came out with some new proposals for how it should be arranged!

Here’s the magnet board, in-process and completed:

cladogram-both

You can find the full digital file here and the solution here.

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