Based on the use of phylogenetic trees to display evolutionary relationships, the evolution of culture ad language may be used to trace relationships and the history of adaptations.

An adaptation is defined here, as something a culture recieves not by conquest, or by adopting it as part of a "package" as in religious conversion, but because it is useful in itself at the time. (It is defined here as the "choice" of the culture.) However, something can be a borrowing from another culture and still be an adaptation.

The advantage of using phylogenies is that each adaptation can be placed into historical order, and any cultural or linguistic borrowings through contact can be identified. However, it is suggested that this works best in local regions because of the degree of population change that can happen over time.