Interpreting a Phylogenetic Tree

Branch point representing the most recent common ancestor of humans, chimps, and bonobos.

The image shows a phylogenetic tree depicting the evolutionary relationships of the human, bonobo, chimpanzee, gorilla, and orangutan. The orangutan branch splits apart from the rest, and then the gorilla branch splits from the chimpanzee, bonobo, and human. An arrow points to the branch point where chimpanzee and bonobo split apart from human.

  • A place where two branches split apart is called a branch point and represents the most recent common ancestor of all the species on those branches.
  • There may or may not be a shape (like a circle) at a branch point.