FWD>True phylogenies

Margaret Thayer thayer at FMPPR.FMNH.ORG
Fri Jul 28 08:56:49 CDT 1995

At 07:58 AM 28-7-95 -0400, Warren Lamboy wrote:
>Yes, it is possible to know the true phylogeny, if it is produced by computer
>simulation or generated in the lab.  Papers that do this include ....

Such work may provide useful insights into the conditions under which
various methods of phylogeny reconstruction work better or worse, but leaves
a layer of uncertainty at a different level.  Generation of the "true"
simulated phylogenies depends on assumptions/hypotheses about how evolution
actually works, and we don't and can't *know* that any more than we can know
true phylogenies of real natural organisms.

Wolfgang Wuster made an excellent point regarding the importance of
distinguishing between 10% accuracy at finding completely correct
phylogenies and 10% accuracy at finding true nodes of phylogenies.
Margaret K. Thayer      thayer at fmnh.org  (use this form for best results)
Adjunct Assistant Curator
Field Museum of Natural History - Zoology, Insects
Roosevelt Road @ Lake Shore Drive
Chicago IL 60605, USA   tel. 312-922-9410, ext. 838   fax 312-663-5397

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