Message 2003-10-0013: Fwd: Re: synapomorphies

Mon, 20 Oct 2003 15:49:43 -0400

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Date: Mon, 20 Oct 2003 15:49:43 -0400
From: Philip Cantino <>
Subject: Fwd: Re: synapomorphies

Jaime Headden wrote:

>Shouldn't a suite of features or a dynamic arrangement of features be
>considered a suite of apomorphies, and not the apomorphy itself? My
>understanding of an apomorphy is a distinct structure of a portion of
>anatomy, not an entire limb. One can characterize the penguim arm as bnoth
>a flipper and a wing, because of its function and functional environment.
>Simiarly, the "flapping wing" (used by Gauthier and de Quieroz for
>_Avialae_) involves some 10-25 distinct features (or apomorphies) that
>other researchers would disagree with lumping into a single large complex
>for purposes of evolutionary biology, which notes that most of these
>features are sequentially acquired, not universally THERE. If one wants to
>specify the quality of the flapping wing which contains a certain number
>of features, maybe this can be considered another effect of the
>apomorphy-based definition, where a _suite_ and not the singular feature,
>can be utilized as long as the suite is clearly denoted as comprising a
>certain set and arrangement of features. Am I offbase in suggesting this?
>A "flapping wing" and a "flipper" are highly ambiguous, as in, when does
>an arm count as a flipper? when it is encased in skin? An albatross' wing
>therefore qualifies as a flipper under this usage.

Yes, these terms (and many other synapomorphies) are ambiguous, and
this is why Rec. 9E is needed and why it is appropriate to refer to
Rec. 9E in the example where flippers are cited as a synapomorphy.


Philip D. Cantino
Professor and Associate Chair
Department of Environmental and Plant Biology
Ohio University
Athens, OH 45701-2979

Phone: (740) 593-1128; 593-1126
Fax: (740) 593-1130


Feedback to <> is welcome!