Rosa and Hennig: message from Humphries

Carmine Colacino colacino at SOCRATES.BERKELEY.EDU
Thu May 13 09:01:40 CDT 1999

I am posting, as requested, a message sent to me by Chris Humphries
> I have been reading this exchange with great interest.  Having read Rosa's
> original book (sadly the Natural History Museum in London only possesses a
> xerox copy I made in Bologna some years ago) I can only conclude that
> Croizat's claim that somehow Rosa pre-empted Hennig is fanciful at best.
> Rosa had a point but he did undertake the task that Hennig set for himself.
> Rosa did not flesh out an argumentation method for understanding which parts
> of morphology that might be construed as synapomorphy, and he did not
> provide a method for determining relationships in terms of evolution by
> common descent.  He did not break similarity into three different kinds
> (monophyly, paraphyly and polyphyly) as Hennig did, and he certainly did not
> take on the typologists as Hennig (with Zimmerman) did in the late 1930s.
> Croizat tried to make Rosa into some great hero to suit his own "Futurist"
> ends.  Croizat neither understood Phylogenetic Systematics nor what Hennig
> really stood for.  As with all great ideas that emerge from some milieu of
> the time someone who clarified the position will inevitably be given the
> credit.  Darwin and Hennig have been lionised and I have no doubt that great
> claims will be made for others.  That Wallace, Sclater, Rosa, Croizat and
> others missed the cut is a fact of life.

Dr. Carmine Colacino
Herbarium Lucanum & Dept. of Biology
University of Basilicata
85100 Potenza, southern Italy
Tel. ++39/097-120-2172; Fax ++39/097-120-2256
e-mail: colacino at

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