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We are all equal | Tree of Life
We are all equal | Tree of Life
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Tree of Life

The tree of life or universal tree of life is a metaphor, model and research tool used to explore the evolution of life and describe the relationships between organisms, both living and extinct, as described in a famous passage in Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of Species (1859). Tree diagrams originated in the medieval era to represent genealogical relationships. ¬†Phylogenetic tree diagrams in the evolutionary sense date back to at least the early 19th century. ¬†The term phylogeny for the evolutionary relationships of species through time was coined by Ernst Haeckel, who went further than Darwin in proposing phylogenic histories of life. In contemporary usage, tree of life refers to the compilation of comprehensive phylogenetic databases rooted at the last universal common ancestor of life on Earth. The Open Tree of Life, first published 2015, is a project to compile such a database for free public access.