Tree of Life in Fossil Record

A Tree of Life Suitable to Organize Fossil Record:

Read Charles Darwin's beautiful description of the Great Tree of Life, from Origin of Species first published in 1859.

A Tree of Life for Fossil Record: The table below prevents a pseudo-formal classification scheme for classifying fossils following the old Linnaeus system. It is a hybrid that includes some of the old Linnaeus classification system, and some new phylogeny-based organization; for example, it also includes the three domains of life, Eukaryotes, Eubacteria (the Prokaryotes) and the Archaeans. While it is not a complete tree of life, it will suffice for organizing fossils into their ancestry and decendency.

Click the links in the table below to climb different trunks, limbs and branches of the tree of life.

Alternatively, begin with the phyla in the Tree of Life.

Special Fossil Categories not Fitting within Tree of Life below Stromatolites - The oldest fossil are sedimentary structures of microbial biologic origin or involvement
Ichnofossils - or trace fossils: imprints that are the result of activity of living organisms
Fossil Amber - Polimerized fossil plant resin that may have inclusions spanning all three domains of life
Domains (note: 1st 7/8ths of geological history dominated by stromatolites across all 3 domains of life)
  Eubacteria ("True bacteria", mitochondria, and chloroplasts)
  Archaea (Methanogens, Halophiles, Sulfolobus, and relatives)
  Eukaryotes (Protists, Plants, Fungi, Animals, Algae, etc.)
  Kingdom Plantae (plant fossils)
  Division Bryophyta (mosses)
  Division Lycophyta (scale trees, club moss)
  Division Pteridopsida (ferns)
  Division Spermatophytes (seed plants)
  Fossil Resin (Amber)
  Kingdom Animalia (Eumetazoa)
  Various Worms Worm Fossils Phyla: Cephaloryncha Nematoda Onychophora Echiura
  Phylum Annelida
  Phylum Lobopodia
  Phylum Vetulicolia
  Phylum Porifera (sponges)
  Phylum Hyolitha
  Phylum Cnidaria
  Class Anthozoa (corals, anemones)
  Class Cubozoa (box jellyfish)
  Class Scyphozoa (jellyfish)
  Phylum Arthropoda (Ecdysozoa - molting animals)
  Class Trilobita (Trilobites)
  Subphylum Crustacea (crabs, lobster, shrimp)
  Subphylum Hexapoda - Class Insecta (insects)
  Subphylum Myriapoda (millipedes, centipedes)
  Subphylum Chelicerata
  Class Arachnida (e.g., spiders, mites, ticks, scorpions, pseudoscorpions)
  Class Merostomata (horseshoe crabs, Eurypterids)
  Class Pycnogonida (sea spiders)
  Phylum Brachiopoda
  Phylum Bryozoa
  Phylum Mollusca
  Class Bivalvia (clams, oysters, mussels scallops)
  Class Cephalopoda (ammonites, nautiluses, squid, octopus)
    Subclass Ammonoidea (Ammonites)  
  Subclass Nautiloidea (Nautiloids)  
  Subclass Ammonoidea
  Class Gastropoda (snails, slugs)
  Phylum Echinodermata
  Ateroidea (starfish)
  Crinoidea (crinoids)
  Echinoidea (sea urchins, sand dollars)
  Edioasteroidea (like starfish)
  Eocrinoidea (dawn crinoids)
  Ophiuroidea (brittle stars)
  Phylum Hemichordata
  Phylum Chordata Infraphylum Terapoda
  Urochordata *
  Fish Class Chondrichthyes (cartilaginous fishes like sharks and rays)
  Fish Class Actinopterygii (bony ray finned fish)
  Fish Class Sarcopterygii (lobe-finned fishes, consisting of lungfish and coelacanths)
  Fish Class Placodermi (Armoured Fish)
  Kingdom Protista (single-celled animals)*
  Kingdom Chromista (single-celled plant and plant-like)
  Kingdom Fungi

* = not important in fossil record

Fossil Museum Navigation:
Geological Time Paleobiology Geological History Tree of Life
Fossil Sites Fossils Evolution Fossil Record Museum Fossils