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The Tree of Life

The Tree of Life

A Phylogenetic Classification

Guillaume Lecointre, Hervé Le Guyader

Translated by Karen McCoy

ISBN 9780674021839

Publication date: 01/15/2007

Did you know that you are more closely related to a mushroom than to a daisy? That crocodiles are closer to birds than to lizards? That dinosaurs are still among us? That the terms "fish," "reptiles," and "invertebrates" do not indicate scientific groupings? All this is the result of major changes in classification, whose methods have been totally revisited over the last thirty years.

Modern classification, based on phylogeny, no longer places humans at the center of nature. Groups of organisms are no longer defined by their general appearance, but by their different individual characteristics. Phylogeny, therefore, by showing common ancestry, outlines a tree of evolutionary relationships from which one can retrace the history of life.

This book diagrams the tree of life according to the most recent methods of classification. By showing how life forms arose and developed and how they are related, The Tree of Life presents a key to the living world in all its dazzling variety.,


  • While so many fundamental texts rely on new advances in genetics to tell us what is known about the machinery of life, basically none provides a revision of the way that we view the structure of the world itself. This is the only book centered on the pattern of biological data, and it should be a model for every book on biological diversity that follows.

    —John W. Wenzel, Cladistics (review of the French edition)


  • Guillaume Lecointre is Professor and Research Scientist at the Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle, Paris.
  • Hervé Le Guyader is Professor of Evolutionary Biology at the Université Pierre-et-Marie-Curie (Université Paris 6).

Book Details

  • 560 pages
  • 7-3/8 x 11 inches
  • Belknap Press
  • Illustrated by Dominique Visset