Navigating the Phylogeny Wing banner

About the UCMP Phylogeny Wing
Using Buttons | Using Cladograms
Exceptions | Other Navigational Aids

Phylogeny icon

About the UCMP Phylogeny Wing

The Phylogeny Wing is the largest of our museum's on-line exhibit halls, with more than 235 individual exhibits, many with multiple pages. The wing provides a survey of biodiversity, focusing on major lineages of organisms. Many of these lineages have gone extinct or currently exist at a much lower diversity than in the past, so there may be large exhibits on groups of organisms that are unfamiliar to you. They are featured because they play an important role in the history of life on earth.

The two primary means of touring the phylogeny displays are the buttons and cladograms, and each of these is briefly discussed below.

Using Buttons

Buttons are one of the primary means of moving around in the phylogeny hall. Information in the Phylogeny Wing is organized in layers, starting from the least specific and working down to the most specific. Each time they appear on a page, you can click on the buttons to learn more about the organisms you are currently exploring — essentially taking you "down" a layer to more specific information.

Once you have clicked on a button, the set of four buttons will be displayed across the top of the new page, allowing you to move "horizontally" between the pages on that layer. The header at the top of the page and a change in button color (the other three buttons turn grey) tell you which page you are currently visiting. To return to the introductory page for the group of organisms you are exploring, click on the group's name, which is displayed in the header or title at the top of the page.

The four buttons below are used throughout the phylogeny wing, and are displayed in the same order wherever they occur.

Fossil Record button Life History & Ecology button Systematics button More on Morphology button
The Fossil Record button links to a page with information about stratigraphy and extinct members. Life History and Ecology provides natural history information, especially concerning reproduction, dispersal, and how the organism interacts with its environment. To explore subgroups of the organisms, click on the Systematics button. This links to information about how the organisms are related to other groups, and how members of the group may be recognized and classified. The More on Morphology button links to information about the anatomy and structure of the organisms.

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Using Cladograms

Cladograms appear on each "Systematics" page. They show the relationships among subgroups of the group you are currently investigating. As an example, the Chelicerate systematics page features a cladogram, shown below, with a number of boxes representing the various groups of chelicerates: arachnids, xiphosurans (horseshoe crabs), eurypterids (sea scorpions), and so forth.

In addition to the scientific names in the cladogram boxes, there are images of organisms for which there are UCMP exhibits to explore. Click on the image to go to the exhibit on that subgroup. Essentially, this takes you "down" another layer, from which you can explore the subgroups. If the cladogram box has no picture, such as "Aglaspida" in the example above, then the exhibit for that group has not yet been created.

Try selecting from the groups at left to get an idea of how this works. Use your browser's "Back" button to return to this page.

There are two additional features of the cladograms: color coding and a special icon. Scarlet boxes (as in the "Aglaspida" box above) indicate that there is uncertainty about the relationships of the group. Each kingdom in represented by a different color: protist boxes are gold, animals are midnight blue, plants are green, bacteria are cobalt, and so forth. You may find that this helps you keep track of your current location. Some boxes (as in the "Arachnida" box above) have a small cladogram icon instead of an organism picture. The icon is used when there is no set of introductory pages for a group, but rather a single page with a cladogram on it.

For more information about the purpose of cladograms and how to interpret them, see our exhibit Journey into Phylogenetic Systematics. This exhibit continues to grow.
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Some of the older exhibits, particularly the dinosaurs, do not follow the standard format. We are working to update these, though the dinosaur hall has taken on a life of its own and may never have the same format as the rest of the Phylogeny Wing. There are also a number of special exhibits linked in at appropriate locations, that do not follow the standard format. They are created to be "stand-alone" displays. Links out of these special exhibits are provided on their introductory pages.

Some groups of organisms do not have the four buttons. Though perhaps of great interest to other biologists, they have received only one or two pages on our server because of a poor fossil record, or because there is not sufficient information to fill all four separate pages for the group.

In addition to the main entrance hall to the Phylogeny Wing, some major exhibits within the wing, such as the dinosaurs, also have their own entrance halls.
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Other Navigational Aids

In addition to the buttons and cladograms, there are text links within the exhibits to allow cross-referencing outside of the organized navigational structure. The text links connect to other exhibits in the Phylogeny Wing, as well as to exhibits in the other on-line wings.

If you become lost as you jump from exhibit to exhibit or Wing to Wing, of if you have a particular destination in mind, you can always use our Web Lift to Taxa to quickly reach any point in the Phylogeny Wing. The Web Lift to Taxa is a comprehensive listing of all groups of organisms with exhibits on our server. An explanation of how to use the Web Lift may be found on that page.

Because the list has grown rather long, and to make searching for a favorite group a bit easier, we now have an Express Lift to Taxa which lists only the major groups of organisms, and those groups of particular interest, such as sharks and birds.

Return to the UCMP Navigational Guide

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