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The anterior limbs of vertebrates and evolution HTML5

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This animation approaches the theme of the classification of vertebrates in the form of a phylogenetic tree. It shows how a selection of vertebrates are classified into groups defined by their common characteristics, according to the current classification system for living things. The classification system used in this animation is nonetheless simplified.

One characteristic is illustrated: the organization of the skeleton of the anterior limb.  The study of this characteristic enables us to understand that, among all the tetrapods, the organization of the skeleton is the same even though the diversity of form and of function of these limbs remains important.  This homology among limbs has been inherited from the common ancestor of the tetrapods.

Click on the animals or the names of groups of species to obtain information.

Learning goals

  • To approach the notion of homology by comparison of the skeletons of the anterior limbs of different species of vertebrates.
  • To understand that living things are classified into groups according to characteristics they possess in common.
  • To approach the notions of species, of biodiversity and of evolution.