This drawing, produced by Harvard student Esther Hamburger as a class assignment, is one of the most fantastic evolution-related cartoons I’ve seen. In fact, it’s not really a cartoon at all: it’s a graphical history of evolutionary biology, showing all the principals. Throughout it winds the Great Chain of Being—in this case a genuine chain of intellectual advance.
Here’s Esther’s description, which I reproduce (along with the drawing) with her permission:
Generating an illustrated history of evolutionary biology was an idea partially inspired by the caricatures of James Gillray. The British artist’s work served to illustrate the political and social scenes of the late 18th century, and was interspersed throughout the Harvard summer school course, taught by Andrew Berry, for which this image was created. Starting from the Greek philosophers who first observed and consequently attempted to explain the world around them, the tree winds it way down to Darwin, the “father of evolution”, and Wallace, his widely unknown counterpart who seems to have lost out in evolution’s custody battle (Google this man). It would,however, be false to say that the image was not in any way spawned by the thought: “Hmmm. I’d really rather not write a history paper.”
Click to enlarge. It repays long study, for every detail in this drawing is meaningful. If you pull the picture onto your desktop, you’ll see that you can zoom in on it considerably without loss of detail, as you’ll get a 10.6 megabyte image.
Thanks to Esther and Andrew for alerting me to this, and allowing me to reproduce it.