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Hexapod Phylogenetic Tree

All six-legged animals that aren't insects share a common ancestor, believed to be something quite like Dragons alive today, but with six legs instead of wings. There are three major branches that broke off, being the dragons, the winged, non-hooved mammals, and the hooved mammals.  

Phylogenetic Tree

by AnzBananz

  Dragons are said to be most ancestral, having evolved wings and growing massive in size. Wyverns and wingless Dragons split off from that branch, losing the wings and Wyverns gaining wing flaps on the forelimbs.   Winged, non-hooved mammals split off earlier than the hooved mammals, containing many carnivorous species. An herbivorous outlier, the Wolpertinger is believed to have split off first, being followed quickly by carnivorous species which gave rise to Gryphons and Hainu. These are possibly the mostly widely distributed members of the hexapod branch, having more adaptability to more climates than the Dragons, and the added benefit of flight to colonize new areas before their hooved, winged counterparts.   It isn't definite whether members of the hooved branch of hexapods had wings or secondarily evolved wings, but there is evidence to suggest that winged species developed a mutation and lost their wings, replacing them with terrestrial limbs. Most ancestral is the Peryton, which gave rise later to both the Pegasus and the Hippogriff, which is the only carnivorous member of the hooved hexapod branch. Six-Legged Goats and Centaurs split off from a common ancestor of the Hippogriff and the Pegasus.   Centaurs are the outlier, of course, being the only intelligent member of the hexapod branch. It is believed that they evolved this way to avoid predators and maximize food collection for their large size and close-knit social structure.

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Cover image: Two Brown Horses on Field Near Mountain by Pete Johnson


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