Message 2001-06-0073: Re: Nipping the bud

Sat, 12 May 2001 13:14:40 -0700 (PDT)

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Date: Sat, 12 May 2001 13:14:40 -0700 (PDT)
From: "Jaime A. Headden" <>
Subject: Re: Nipping the bud

Ken Kinman ( wrote:

<"Nipping the bud" is the ultimate problem with pure
phylogenetic taxonomy. Even many cladists will admit that
speciation is a budding (paraphyletic) process. Therefore
paraphyletic groups are a superior model.>

  This sounds like generalizing a specific problem: whereas the
paraphyletic speciation of organisms is true to a certain
degree, applied generally it fails to confirm speciation within
higher taxa. That speciation is a budding principle is a
paradigm true only so far as we can find the population.
Amphibians did not give rise to amniotes, so nesting one within
the other is a foolish excercise. Amphibia is an explicit group
whose ansecors amy or many not have been that same as Amniota's
was. This means practically nothing except that these two groups
are explicity sister to each other until we find the whole and
intact envolutionary sequence of the speciation event itself
that caused to arise the groups we apply these names to,
paraphyletic or not.

<Sister groups are a Hennigian convention (not based in reality
at all), but they are a useful convention because extinction and
the rarity of fossilization has given us gaps that make sister
groups seem real and a useful approximation of real clades.>

  Sure, I agree 100%. And since I can make a pure parsimony
statement that man evolved from apes that are derived from the
chimpanzee, we must therefore call ourselves a subgroup of
*Pan*. That *Pan* is a subgroup of another one...

<In reality the tree of life is a nested series of paraphyletic
groups that we can never discover, so the best we can hope is to
recognize the most useful set of [paraphyletic] groups and
exgroups (clades) that we can.>

  Let me phrase this into a more parsimonious statement:

"The tree of life appears to be a nested series of groups whose
ancestors we can never discover, so the best we can hope is to
recognize the most useful set of relationships of these few
explicit groups that we can."

  Paraphyletic arrangement is the assumption, and should be
considered differently than the "nesting" of groups, since this
is an assumption of actual relationship.

Jaime A. Headden

  Where the Wind Comes Sweeping Down the Pampas!!!!

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