ninja icon


•  A clade is a group of organisms that have evolved from a common ancestor

Cladistics is a method of classifying organisms into groups of species called clades (from Greek ‘klados' = branch)

  • Each clade consists of an ancestral organism and all of its evolutionary descendants
  • Members of a clade will possess common characteristics as a result of their shared evolutionary lineage

Clades can be organised according to branching diagrams (cladograms) in order to show evolutionary relationships

Examples of Clades

My Image 1 My Image 2

  Click on the diagram to show different modes of representation

ninja icon


•  Cladograms are tree diagrams that show the most probable sequence of divergence in clades

Cladograms are tree diagrams where each branch point represents the splitting of two new groups from a common ancestor

  • Each branch point (node) represents a speciation event by which distinct species are formed via divergent evolution

Cladograms show the probable sequence of divergence and hence demonstrate the likely evolutionary history (phylogeny) of a clade

  • The fewer the number of nodes between two groups the more closely related they are expected to be

Phylogenetic Comparison of Cladograms


ninja icon


•  Cladograms including humans and other primates

Cladograms can show evolutionary relationships and demonstrate how recently two groups shared a common ancestry

  • As each node represents a point of divergence, closely related species will be separated by fewer nodes

According to a cladogram outlining the evolutionary history of humans and other primates:

  • Humans, chimpanzees, gorillas, orangutans and gibbons all belong to a common clade – the Hominoids
  • The Hominoid clade forms part of a larger clade – the Anthropoids – which includes Old World and New World monkeys 

Cladogram Example: Humans and Other Primates

primate cladogram