Why is the order of terminal nodes meaningless? Why does changing the order of terminal nodes affect the way someone might interpret the phylogeny?. Earth & Marine Sciences

The order of the terminal nodes is meaningless because the terminal nodes do not represent any information about the pattern of branching in the phylogeny. Like a mobile, the internal nodes rotate freely, each turning on its central axis without affecting the pattern of branching, or the topology. Phylogenies do not have order at the tips—only branching order affects topology. It’s easy to be fooled into interpreting the terminal nodes to mean some kind of order within the phylogeny, and the danger stems from applying causal mechanisms to explain the illusion of pattern.

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