A few years ago, when my youngest brother was . . . well, younger, we found that he was enamored with the family dog, Tippy. He loved that dog an awful lot and sadly, she pretty much completely ignored him. Whenever he would walk up to her and try to give her a hug, she would look towards one of us with pleading eyes or she would turn and walk away. My little brother never got discouraged though.

But, what was very interesting about his love for Tippy was that whenever he saw a different dog, even when they were completely different kinds of dogs, he would call them “Tippy” instead of “dogs”. In fact, Tippy was one of his first words he ever spoke (some of my family attributes that to the simple pronunciation of the word but I believe it was because he loved that dog a lot).

Anyway, I found it interesting that he called all dogs “Tippy”. How did he know what was a dog? How could he tell that Tippy, who is a Border Collie/Brown Lab mix, from a pit bull or a bulldog? How did he know in his two-year old brain? This really had me thinking until I remembered cladistics!

Cladistics is the study of animals and how they can be grouped and how they relate to each other. My little brother, although he has no idea what cladistics are, was using the very science of cladistics to call out all the “Tippy’s” in the world. I found this very interesting and began to make a few connections to some other things I had read or heard recently.

One quote came from a Christian, creationist paleontologist that I had talked to over the phone. We had an amazing conversation and during it we talked about what the creationist movement needed as far as paleontologists. We broke it up into two main groups: the ones who study the geological aspect of dinosaurs and the ones who study the anatomical part of dinosaurs. I am completely an anatomical person so I’m going to go for that in my future career.

I then found out that my anatomical choice would lead to, you guessed it, cladistics. See, if I’m out studying dinosaur bones and how they formed the dinosaurs and such then I’m going to be making the same judgments my little brother did. I’m going to be grouping dinosaurs together, calling out my “Tippy’s”, and telling others who they relate to in the dinosaur kingdom!

I’m very excited to be aspiring to do what comes naturally to humans since a young age: cladistics. However, even though we all know it is something that comes easily, it is often a very misinterpreted science and you can read more about that HERE and HERE.