Ancient Wings: A cool phylogeny visualization

I ran across the following interesting website

Phylogenetic trees of taxa are often created and used for the calculation of ancestral traits of the internal nodes of these trees. However, seldom are these ancestral traits visualized in an intuitive manner.

Ancient Wings allows users to see how the ventral hindwing of 54 butterflies in the genus Bicyclus have changed over time. By clicking on each of the nodes within the evolutionary tree, the user can see how eyespots’ sizes and positions relative to the wing have evolved. The ancestral wing pattern traits were calculated using COMPARE 4.4, a program by Emilia Martins of Indiana University. The phylogenetic tree and its historical calibration are by Antonia Monteiro of SUNY at Buffalo.

Ancient Wings website

The paper, “Ancient Wings: animating the evolution of butterfly wing patterns”, and the program can be found at this website.

Nature: Science update discusses the findings.

Article in BioEd online

Ancient Wings, as the program is called, could help researchers and teachers to explore evolution, says its creator, Antónia Monteiro of the State University of New York in Buffalo. “You can never turn back the clock, but you can see what was likely to have happened,” she says.

PhD webpage on Evolution and Development of Butterfly Wing Patterns - the eyespots of Bicyclus anynana