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Open Access Highly Accessed Review

How stands the Tree of Life a century and a half after The Origin?

Maureen A O'Malley1 and Eugene V Koonin2*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Philosophy, Quadrangle A14, University of Sydney, NSW 2006, Australia

2 National Center for Biotechnology Information, National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda MD20894, USA

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Biology Direct 2011, 6:32  doi:10.1186/1745-6150-6-32

Published: 30 June 2011


We examine the Tree of Life (TOL) as an evolutionary hypothesis and a heuristic. The original TOL hypothesis has failed but a new "statistical TOL hypothesis" is promising. The TOL heuristic usefully organizes data without positing fundamental evolutionary truth.


This article was reviewed by W. Ford Doolittle, Nicholas Galtier and Christophe Malaterre.