What do we know about evolution? Dr. Wright’s project concerns models of evolution for morphological characters. As seen on the figure below, we can collect many types of data about an organism’s form. These data may be quite complex. When we build a phylogeny, we assume we know something about how our data came to be. But what if we don’t? What if our assumptions about the way evolution has happened in our group are wrong? In this project, the student will work closely with other lab members to evaluate how well our models of evolution are actually capturing the process of evolution.
What do we know about time? Dr. Wright’s second project concerns how we can use fossils to tell how long ago a species diversified into multiple species. When paleontologists dig a fossil out of the ground, they might know something about what kind of species it is, or when it lived. How can we use this information to generate trees like the one below, which is dated to absolute time?