It's easy to get downright Jungian when considering the interactivity of global folktales. The same characters and scenarios appear again and again throughout human history. We share similar monsters and archetypes in much the same way we share genes.
So what happens when we apply evolutionary analysis to the evolution of a particular folktale? In "The Phylogeny of Little Red Riding Hood," Jamshid Tehrani of Durham University asks just this, applying the scientific rigor normally reserved for the exploration of relationships between different species to the relationships between different tales of a certain wolf-bating damsel in distress.
Tehrani took 72 plot variables from the tale (related to character, villain, tactics, etc.), charted them and found that the African versions of the tale are not actually descended from "Little Red Riding Hood," but instead stem from a tale titled "The Wolf and the Kids." Meanwhile, East Asian seemingly evolved as a hybrid of the two.
The author proposes that such phylogenetic analysis of folklore might be used to augment traditional literary analysis in understanding the evolution of oral narratives.
Now let's take a look at Little Red's phylogenetic tree...