Thomas Pape thomas.pape at NRM.SE
Fri Jun 13 08:51:22 CDT 1997

At 14.40 1997-06-13 +1000, Geoff Witten wrote:
>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.

I cannot see why "Paraphyly must be tolerated at some level or another for a
workable taxonomy to exist". Paraphyletic groups are simply not taxa - at
best they visualise our ignorance about their 'true' nature.

And I cannot see how 'Agnatha' should make Vertebrata sensu stricto
paraphyletic; or why Homo should be "paraphyletic wrt Australopithecus"; or
why birds as a taxon is not fully acceptable (and monophyletic!) even if
'dinosaurs' should be para- or polyphyletic.

Resolution-defying polytomies equal lack of knowledge and cannot be in
favour of tolerating paraphyly, nor can our need to "facilitate discussion
and comprehension" be an argument for a less rigorous taxonomy.

Thomas Pape

Thomas Pape
Department of Entomology
Swedish Museum of Natural History       Voice: +46 8666 4094
Box 50007                               Fax:   +46 8666 4099
S - 104 05 Stockholm, SWEDEN            e-mail: thomas.pape at

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