Biologists are life scientists. They study the anatomy, behaviors and history of animals to paint a picture of the past, explain the present, and predict the future. They won't be able to tell you if you'll ace your next test, but they will be the first to know if there is a global change in height or heart size.
How Do Biologists Use Phylogeny?
Well, that depends on the biologist. There are many different types of biologists who use phylogeny in different ways. Let's take a closer look at some examples of phylogeny in action:
Zoo biologists use phylogeny to group animals together in exhibits. Have you ever been to a zoo that had several different kinds of animals in one environment? How about similar animals from different regions? Zoologists also use phylogenetic information to understand ontogeny, the development of a creature as it grows. This is particularly important when we discover a new species.
Evolutionary psychologists are scientists who believe that human traits or abilities, such as memory and language, are adaptations. They use phylogeny to examine the psychological developments that occur between the different stages of human development. For example, Homo Erectus—who lived 1.8 to 1 million years ago—is believed to have invented cooking. This behavioral development led to higher nutritional intake and consumption of a greater variety of food, which could explain improvements in memory.
Doctors use phylogeny to explain trends in human development. They can look at developments in average diet, height, weight and form and connect them to an evolutionary trend. Phylogeny will tell these biologists if these changes are temporary, part of a larger trend, new or old, fast or slow.