NEW CLASSIFICATIONS: Angiosperms as an example

Ken Kinman kinman at HOTMAIL.COM
Mon Jan 4 21:16:42 CST 1999


     Although it may eventually be useful to subdivide
the dicots into several different classes (although I
would suspect that less than eight would probably be
optimal), I can see no good reason for abandoning a
separate class for monocots.  This is not some
conservative knee-jerk reaction to a novel taxonomy, but
a deeply-held conviction that a universally useful
classification of organisms is possible. (Note: but only when cladists
and eclecticists finally abandon their long "turf-war" and realize that
they've been acting like the Hatfields and McCoys for the last 30
years----- seriously, this could be how future generations view this
period which I personally believe has generated a lot of unnecessary
turmoil).
    Even if we could unambiguously identify the dicots
which gave rise to the monocots (and I don't think we
can at present), I see no reason to dump them together
into a single class.  This is not even commonly done
with groups that have far better fossil records.  Only a
minority of strict cladists still insist that birds and
mammals be formally classified with their reptilian
ancestors.  This is one of the main reasons I proposed
The Kinman System in 1994---to avoid radical taxonomic
changes that do more damage than good.  Semiparaphyletic
groups, along with corresponding markers to indicate
their cladistic "sister-group" placements, is one of the
key elements that make this system superior to both
traditional eclectic classifications and strictly
cladistic ones as well (simply put, it synergistically
combines the best of both systems, and eliminates most
of the disadvantages).  Remember that old commercial: "try it, you'll
like it."
    Therefore I will probably continue to recognize a
separate class for monocots (even if I decide multiple
classes of dicots should be recognized), and will also
continue to place a "semiparaphyletic" place-marker for
the monocot class beside the most likely dicot "order"
or "family" to reflect where monocots' sister group most
likely lies.  Such a course will minimize confusion and
taxonomic instability, but still allow the
classification of angiosperms to "evolve" as new
knowledge becomes available.
     I hope this will be taken as it is intended, namely
as constructive criticism of one facet of the proposed
classification of angiosperms.  It is a difficult and
therefore controversial area of botanical endeavour.  I
just don't think that "formally" throwing monocots into
some class of dicots will be fruitful (certainly not
now, if ever), and it could potentially cause much
confusion and other deleterious problems.  In other
words, it could be worse than just throwing the baby out
with the bathwater (if that isn't bad enough). As always, I welcome any
constructive criticism of my own views on these and other matters.
                          Sincerely, Kenneth E. Kinman

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