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Biology/Tree of Life


Dear Sir

Im study biology and had a question about the TOL namely the common ancestor.
Researching around the subject a little, there seems to be some discrepancy between what the tree of life looks likes, depending on whether you look at the anatomy or the molecular data and even within molecular studies which genes you use to base the tree on.
Im sure in time this will be resolved.
However, it seems to me that all studies try to fit the data to a single tree type structure with a single trunk i.e. common ancestor.  Could it be possible that since life began (to the best theory at the moment) in deep sea vents (or similar environment) that the TOL could actually be multiple TOLs with the same base chemicals being acted upon by slightly different environments producing slightly different starting points for life.
Why must life be traced back to a single common ancestor could there be multiple common ancestors and therefore multiple trees albeit from the same common chemicals?



Hi Jon
Consider he development of Homo sapiens as a huge experiment that started in different directions. Certainly other pathways were tried and came to a dead end and failed. The tree of life illustrates a continuum based upon the evidence at hand to show the pathway from living forma in the sea to man. All the extinctions show this to be true. Some models of the tree of life do show the pathways that end in extinction. In 400 million or so years different organic compounds also were tried out and rejected by nature. It is likely that even DDT was rejected as environmental disaster,gone until modern chemists managed to synthesize it and it was still a disaster. What would the tree be like if he giant reptiles were not wiped out opening the way for the evolution of mammals Perhaps the top of the tree would be different and we would not be here conversing


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Walter Hintz


Science teacher for over 50 years. MSc. in biology. I can answer questions in general biology, zoology, botany, anatomy and physiology and biochemistry.


I have a MSc in biology and have been a science teacher for over 50 years. At present I am a faculty member at a college and a science consultant at seven catholic schools.

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