The Similarity Trap

Try Squarespace for free:
And subscribe to MinuteEarth!

As we try to figure out the evolutionary trees for languages and species, we sometimes get led astray by similar but unrelated words and traits.

Thanks to our Patreon patrons and our YouTube sponsors.

___________________________________________

To learn more, start your googling with these keywords:
Cladistics: A method of recreating evolutionary trees based on evidence about relationships.
Etymology: The study of the origin of words and how they have changed throughout history.
Convergent Evolution: A process whereby different species evolve similar traits in order to adapt to similar environments.
Polyphyly: A group containing members with multiple ancestral sources.
Homoplasy: A trait shared by a group of species that is not shared in their common ancestor.
False Cognates: Pairs of words with similar sounds and meanings but unrelated etymologies.
___________________________________________

If you liked this week’s video, you might also like:
A photographer who has taken amazing photos of unrelated people who look alike:
_________________________________________

Support us on Patreon:
And visit our website:

Say hello on Facebook:
And Twitter:
And download our videos on itunes:
___________________________________________

Credits (and Twitter handles):
Script Writer: David Goldenberg (@dgoldenberg)
Script Editor: Emily Elert (@eelert)
Video Illustrator: Jessika Raisor
Video Director: David Goldenberg, Emily Elert
Video Narrator: Emily Elert
With Contributions From: Henry Reich, Alex Reich, Kate Yoshida, Ever Salazar, Peter Reich
Music by: Nathaniel Schroeder:

Image Credits:

Lappet-faced Vulture (Old World) – Steve Garvie

Turkey vulture (New World) – Flickr User minicooper93402

Crested Porcupine (Old World) – Flickr user [email protected]

North American Porcupine (New World) – iStock.com/GlobalP

Chinchilla lanigera – Nicolas Guérin

Naked Mole Rat – Roman Klementschitz

Ganges river dolphin – Zahangir Alom, NOAA (Public Domain)

Atlantic Spotted Dolphin – Flickr user [email protected]

Orcinus orcas – Robert Pittman, NOAA (Public Domain)

Euphorbia obesa – Frank Vincentz

Astrophytum asterias – David Midgley

Sweet William Dwarf – Nicholas M. Bashour

___________________________________________

References:

Atkinson, Q. and Gray, R. (2005). Darimont, C., Fox, C., Bryan, H., and Reimchen, C. (2015). Curious Parallels and Curious Connections — Phylogenetic Thinking in Biology and Historical Linguistics. Systematic Biology. 54:5 (513-526). Retrieved from:

Atkinson, Quentin. (2018). Personal Communication. Department of Evolution and Human Behavior at the University of Auckland.

Bennu, D. (2004). The Evolution of Birds: An Overview of the Avian Tree of Life. Lab Animal. 33 (42-28)). Retrieved from:

De La Fuente, J.(2010). Urban legends: Turkish kayık ‘boat’ and “Eskimo” qayaq ‘kayak’. Studia Linguistica. 127 (7-24). Retrieved from: