paraphyly

Geoff Witten gjw at RMIT.EDU.AU
Fri Jun 13 14:40:45 CDT 1997


Bengt Oxelman wrote, among other things..

> The 'thing' (singularity,
>system of replicators) that actually participitates in evolution needs
>another concept, entirely decoupled from Linnean categorical ranks, and it
>has nothing to do with taxonomy.
>

This goes back to the original message of this thread. Paraphyly must be
tolerated at some level or another for a workable taxonomy to exist. While
agnathans exist all other vertebrates are paraphyletic sensu stricto. It is
a nonsense to try to impose this on accepted terminology or taxonomy.

At the generic level there will still be polychotomies which defy
resolution, and the possibility should be entertained that this is because
no real solution is available. Clearly Australopithecus and Homo are
monophyletic, and coexisted for a time. Homo is therefore paraphyletic wrt
Australopithecus. However, both genera are retained because they are useful
taxonomic units, and facilitate discussion and comprehension.

I like to think of birds as surviving dinosaurs, but I still call them birds.

Geoff Witten
Department of Anatomy and Physiology
RMIT - Bundoora
PO Box 71
Bundoora Victoria 3083
Australia
email gjw at rmit.edu.au
Phone 61 3 9468 2589
Fax 61 3 9467 8589




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