Tree of Life

Fossil Mall
Science Section

Simplified Tree of Life Suitable for Fossils
also see the Domains and Kingdoms of Life







The scheme below uses both the old Linnaeus classification system, as well as some of the more modern phylogenic conventions, including the three domains of life. It is merely intended as a ontology (i.e., road map) to use to link to information and pictures of various categories of fossils. For sure, as genomes, proteomes and gene function of extant organisms are studied, there will be surprises and scientific debate, and branching points in the Great Tree of Life will likely change.

Linnaeus Classification Scheme: Kingdom - e.g. animalia Phylum - chordata Class - mammalia Order - primate Family - hominidae Genus - homo species - sapiens

A Pseudo Tree of Life for Fossil Collectors:
  Domain (note: 1st 7/8ths of geological history dominated by stromatolites across all 3 domains of life)
  Domain Bacteria or Eubacteria ("True bacteria", mitochondria, and chloroplasts)
  Domain Archaea (Methanogens, Halophiles, Sulfolobus, and relatives)
  Domain Eukaryota or the Eukaryotes (Protists, Plants, Fungi, Animals, Algae, etc.)
  Kingdom Protista (single-celled animals, microorganisms)
  Kingdom Chromista -  usually grouped with Protista (single-celled plant and plant-like organisms that include all algae whose chloroplasts contain chlorophylls a and c)
  Kingdom Fungi
  Kingdom Plantae
  Division Bryophyta (mosses)
  Division Lycophyta (scale trees, club moss)
  Division Pteridopsida (ferns)
  Division Spermatophytes (seed plants)
  Kingdom Animalia (Metazoa)
  Worms A worm in common vernacular is an elongated invertebrate, typically lacking legs. I list them here to demonstrate the enormous diversity including dispersion across 10 phyla among the 35 known phyla in the tree of life. Worms are important in evolution and the fossil record, though fossils are relatively rare due to the need for preserving soft tissues.
  Phylum Annelida (earthworms and leeches)
  Phylum Chaetognatha
  Phylum Hemichordata
  Phylum Nematoda (round worms)
  Phylum Nemertea (ribbon worms)
  Phylum Onychophora (velvet worms within Superphylum: Ecdysozoa)
  Phylum Phoronida (horsehair worms - no uncontested body fossils, only ichnofossils
  Phylum Platyhelminthes (flatworms)
  Phylum Priapulida (penis worms)
  Phylum Sipuncula
  Phylum Porifera (sponges)
  Phylum Cnidaria
  Class Anthozoa (corals, anemones)
  Class Cubozoa (box jellyfish)
  Class Scyphozoa (jellyfish
  Phylum Arthropoda (Ecdysozoa - molting animals)
  Class trilobita [about trilobites]
  Class crustacea (crabs, lobster, shrimp)
  Class hexapoda (insects) [about insects]
  Class Myriapoda (millipedes, centipedes)
  Class Cheliceramorpha (spiders)
  Class Arachnida (spiders, mites, ticks, scorpions, pseudoscorpions)
  Class: Merostomata
  Order Eurypterida or Eurypterids (sea scorpions)
  Class Merostomata (horseshoe crabs)
  Superphylum Lophotrochozoa (the Lophophorates)
  Phylum Brachiopoda
  Phylum Bryozoa (moss animals)
  Phylum Mollusca
  Class Aplacophora
  Class Bivalvia (the bivalves - clams, mussels, oysters, scallops - many orders)
  Class Cephalopoda (squid, octopus, ammonites)
    Subclass Ammonoidea (the extinct ammonites)
    Subclass Nautiloidea (the extant Nautiloids )
    Subclass Coleoidea (belemnoids, octopuses, squids, cuttlefish)
  Class Gastropoda (snails and slugs)
  Class Monoplacophora (polyphyletic group)
  Class Pleistomollusca (class proposed in Nature. 2011 Sep 4;477(7365):452-6)
  Class Polyplacophora (chiton)
  Class Rostroconchia (once placed in bivalvia)
  Class Scaphopoda (tusk shells)
  Superphylum Deuterostomia
  Phylum Echinodermata  
  Subphylum Blastozoa (blastoids)
  Subphylum Crinozoa
    Class Crinoidea (the crinoids or sea lillies)
    Class Paracrinoidea (resemble crinoids)
    Class Echinoidea (sea urchins, sand dollars)
    Class Edioasteroidea (like starfish)
    Class Eocrinoidea (dawn crinoids)
  Subphylum Homalozoa (limited to Paleozoic, some fossils enigmatic and equivocal affinity - e.g., carpoids)
  Subphylum: Asterozoa
    Class Ateroidea (starfish or sea stars)
    Class Ophiuroidea (brittle stars)
  Phylum Chordata
  Subphylum Tunicata, including Urochordata
  Fish (an enormous but paraphyletic group listed below)
  Superclass Agnatha (the agnathans - the jawless fish of the Paleozoic)
  Infraphylum Gnathostomata  (jawed vertebrates)
       Class Placodermi (the Armored fish)
       Class Acanthodii (spiny sharks of Paleozoic)
  Superclass Osteichthyes (bony fish)
       Class Chondrichthyes (the cartilaginous fishes, including sharks, rays and skates)
       Class Actinopterygii (the ray finned fishes)
       Class Sarcopterygii (lobe-finned fishes) giving rise to Clade: Tetrapodomorpha
  Superclass Tetrapoda (with four legs or e.g., two legs and two wings)
       Class Amphibia (Amphibians)
  Class Reptilia (Reptiles)
  Class Synapsida
  Class Mammalia (the mammals)

From the first dawn of life, all organic beings are found to resemble each other in descending degrees, so they can be classed in groups under groups.

Charles Darwin, Origin of Species, Chapter 13