paraphyly

Barbara Ertter ertter at UCJEPS.HERB.BERKELEY.EDU
Thu Jun 12 10:52:26 CDT 1997


>>I know that not everybody is a cladist, and therefore for them paraphyly
>>does not exist.  But if you do adhere to cladistic principles, why does
>>paraphyly still exist?  I can understand the need for taxonomic stability,

It's not a question of the existence of paraphyly, but rather whether it is
a mortal sin as far as nomenclature is concerned.  Why is it anathema to
have taxon A arising from the middle of taxon B?  Isn't it likely that this
is exactly how evolution works?  If someone (I think this might actually
have been  done) assigns a binomial to one of the human tumor cell lines
that is being maintained in culture, Homo sapiens becomes paraphyletic.
What is the value of turning an existing nomenclature system inside out, a
system that has evolved for general purpose communication beyond the ivory
tower, when the cladogram itself already fits the bill beautifully when it
is critical that monophyletic groups be the units of discussion?

Barbara Ertter




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