How to Classify Your Dragons: On Teaching Tree-Reading with the Use of Fantastical Creatures

We present material and instructions to teach the construction of phylogenetic trees using specifically designed images of dragons. Using fictional creatures, we can control the number and properties of characteristics, as well as present students with a context they might consider interesting. Besides creating evolutionary trees from data, students can learn that trees based on morphological characteristics might contradict and trees based on genetic analysis are a more reliable tool in classification. The material used in this learning environment is freely available, so educators can use and customize it freely.

Students working with this material declared a high motivation to work with the fictional animals and engaged in very active discussions about different classifications of the dragons.


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