YOU'RE THE SCIENTIST!
YOUR EVOLUTIONARY FAMILY TREE
STEP 5: TEST WITH AN EXPERIMENT
For our experiment, we are collecting data with the goal of creating a phylogenetic tree.
To build phylogenetic trees, scientists use the characteristics, both anatomical and behavioral, of taxa. Species that share more characteristics and/or DNA, the blueprint for life, are declared more closely related than those who have less in common. Scientists collect and compile data to analyze and formulate conclusions.
To do this experiment, you look at your dog, at a frog, and at yourself. Or look the species up on Google. Identify and record important details (or traits) about them. This information on the traits and who has them is our data. In our data, we include traits that are behavioral (for example, hibernation), anatomical (for example, number of eyes), and physiological (for example, warm-blooded).
I look at my dog, at the frog, and at myself and observe differences. Then I look up the different species that each of us are on the internet. I identify and record important details (or traits) about us. This information on the traits and who has them is my data. In my data, I include traits that are behavioral (for example, hibernation), anatomical (for example, number of eyes), and physiological (for example, warm-blooded).
In this experiment, you will be utilizing the New England Primate Conservancy website to collect data about 5 primate species:
1 New World monkey
1 Old World monkey
1 Nonhuman ape of your choice
Record your data about the species that you select in your Lab Notebook.
In each of the profiles, be on the lookout for important details about each species. This includes anatomy or physical characteristics (grasping hands, etc.), habitat, behavior (group size, etc.), and diet (fruit, etc.). When you click on the links for the species that you select from the choices below, you will be taken to the Primate Species Profile on this website. You are welcome to use other reputable information sources as well.
Now, select one primate species from each of the primate groups below for your comparison experiment as outlined above. Your 5th choice will always be a human.
HOW SPECIES ARE NAMED
In taxonomy, there are rules for how animals and other organisms are named. Scientists use a two-name system called a Binomial Naming System, which means that the name is made up of two words (bi-nomial). The first word is the genus and the second is the species. This is because the common names that we use to talk about species are not officially defined. The common name of a single species may differ between languages, regions, or even ethnic groups of people in a single community. To complicate things further, some animal species may share common names or have very similar common names.
For example, the collared titi monkey is commonly called the widow monkey, the collared titi, or the yellow-handed titi in English. In Spanish and Castillian, the same monkey species is commonly called huicoco or zogue-zogue. In German, it is commonly called halsband-springaffe, and in Portuguese, zougue-zogue.
The Lucifer titi is also commonly called the widow monkey and the yellow-handed titi.
This can be confusing. When using the common name, how do we know that we’re all talking about the same species? So, scientists assign a Latin name to the species. Scientific names, or Latin names, are always consistent everywhere in the world. For the collared titi, it is Cheracebus torquatus. For the Lucifer titi, it is Cheracebus lucifer. Cheracebus is the genus. Torquatus and lucifer indicate the species.
There are rules for writing scientific names:
- Use both genus and species name: Cheracebus torquatus
- Italicize the whole name.
- Capitalize only the genus name.
The scientific name can be abbreviated as C. torquatus, where the genus is represented by its first letter.
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