Example test questions: Systematics

Multiple choice

  1. (Refers to a diagram of a phylogenic tree) Which of the above groups of organisms represents a monophyletic lineage?
  2. (Refers to a diagram of a phylogenic tree) Which of the above groups of organisms represents a paraphyletic lineage?
  3. Which of the following terms describes traits that are present in two species and that were inherited from a recent common ancestor?
  4. In _____ groups, the species all share a recent common ancestor and some but not all the descendent species of that common ancestor are considered part of the group.
  5. “The degree of relatedness (and therefore how recent the time of divergence) is proportional to the number of shared homologous traits.” This is known as the principle of (a. paleontology, b. cladistics, c. conservation, d. irreversibility)
  6. Why do we suspect that the earliest mammals lactated? (a. they were viviparous, b. all present-day mammals lactate and their mammary tissue is virtually identical across species, c. we have fossil evidence of milk, d. the earliest mammals did not lactate)
  7. Using the principle of conservation, which of the following traits is most likely to be ancestral in mammals? (a. chorioallantoic placenta, b. egg laying, c. hair, d. bat’s wings)
  8. Which of the following terms describes traits present into two species that were inherited from a recent shared ancestor?
  9. Flippers have evolved independently in several orders of mammals and is an example of (a. Parallelism, b. Homology, c. Convergence, d. An ancestral trait)

Short answer

  1. Some early classification schemes used modes of locomotion to differentiate groups of mammals. Why is this not a satisfactory character for constructing phylogenies? Be sure to explain how convergence contributes to the problem. Name two other types of characters that are more useful. Is convergence still a problem with the other methods?