Date of Evolution of Taxa

In brief, I’m looking for a datasource which can give the approximate evolutionary age of taxa.

What I’m trying to do is build a phylogenetic tree of my observations, which I can do (thank you iNat API!), but I want a principled way of ordering the various siblings at each point in the tree. For example, to show that Arthropoda evolved later than Chordata, and Aves later than Reptilia.

Or is this ill-defined?

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Do you want that information to the species level? Or only to the Phylum/Class/One of the other major classification levels?

Ideally it would be all the way down to Family & Genus level, but I understand this may not be known for all corners of the Tree.

Yes, I was going to say that. I don’t know of any database that has all that information compiled, but I think it doesn’t even exist for the species level. You might get lucky on the family level, but even that is not very probable for all of the tree

Ok, thanks. I figured it was mission impossible, but am a total newbie in naturalism. I guess I’ll just do some research on the phylum-level and use manual annotations to impose a desirable ordering.

[Context: I’m working on a script that builds a beamer (LaTeX) presentation that nicely organizes all of one’s observations, with one’s own photos. There will be some preliminary slides showing where various species are “on the map” so to speak. I’ll have the option to add some notes on observations with interesting points like medicinal use, edibility… I figure that will be less work than manually updating the presentation as I make more observations. I hope to present to my local community in the fall.]


That sounds great! As a graph/map/scheme geek myself, I think it is a great idea to organize one’s observations like that!

You might try – they have a lot of dates for nodes on the tree. I’m not sure if they source those dates, though.

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Fossilworks (the PaleoDB) is a very good reference that often gives good age dates for higher taxa as well as species. The quality does seem to vary taxon to taxon but has been useful enough to be used as a major resource when teaching Paleo Lab. The site occasionally gets loading issues, though, and currently seems to not be loading pages on my end. There are often literature citations as well, but it does depend on the taxon.

There’s even Wikipedia if you want a quick reference. Many taxa indicate an age range (for instance, Arthropoda is denoted as 540 - 0 Ma and Cambrian - Recent at the top of its infobox). Searching through the article may be able to point you to citations for these dates (here including Braun, Chen, & Maas 2007; Yuan et al. 2007; Yuan et al. 2002; Skovsted, Brock, & Patterson 2006; and Betts et al. 2014 seem to be among the most relevant).

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This might have what you want:

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Wow! That’s a really neat resource, didn’t know that existed.

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