The Evolution of Life series was designed to depict Canada's past from a palaeontological perspective, rather than the usual historical point-of-view, while also representing the evolution of humanity as expressed in philosophy, science and the imagination. Fourteen sculptures have been installed so far within the spandrels, or quasi-triangular panels, formed by the pier-arches on the north and south ends of the House of Commons Chamber.
Sculptress R. Eleanor Milne chose the theme "prehistoric life" for three reasons:
The subject is interesting by nature and highly decorative. The sculptures illustrate major prehistoric plants, animals and marine life. Geometric patterns and other forms of life were included as decorative elements, supporting the primary creatures and plants.
In most instances, as far as scholars have been able to determine to date, the chosen flora and fauna originated in the geological region now known as Canada, before radiating out to other parts of the world.
The subjects are symbolically appropriate to their setting within the Commons Chamber. As sculptress R. Eleanor Milne has noted, "the primary aim of nature is to keep the ecosystem in harmony. The primary role of our political parties is to govern, working in harmony as a balanced whole."
Three palaeontological advisors contributed to this series: Dale Russell, David Jarzen and Philip J. Currie.