limited "semi-paraphyly" vs. paraphylophobia

Ken Kinman kinman at HOTMAIL.COM
Thu Feb 3 21:05:42 CST 2000

     Even though I prefer semi-paraphyletic groups (with markers that
restore informational "monophyly"/holophyly). I would like to bring up one
fact that strict cladists rarely respond to.  A paraphyletic group, like
traditional reptiles, was for tens of millions of years a perfectly good
holophyletic group with numerous amniote synapomorphies.  Just because one
(or in this case) two clades later radiated from it with numerous new
synapomorphies, they now regard "reptiles" as unnatural and lump paraphyly
in with polyphyly as if both are equally bad and unnatural.
     I only convert the most useful paraphyletic groups into
semi-paraphyletic ones.  Others, such as Condylarthra, I totally disbanded,
even though McKenna persists in attaching that name to one small section of
the old group.  I think that is unfortunate and confusing to almost
everyone.  If eclecticists would minimize their use of paraphyletic groups,
and would use Kinman markers when they do recognize them, strict cladists
would no longer have a good reason to oppose them (they might cite out-dated
reasons, but they would not be good reasons).
     I think I usually use the phrase "strict cladist" (rather than radical
cladist), but however different the various splinter groups of strict
cladists may be, they share one frustrating characteristic----they have been
taught to despise, or at least shun, all paraphyletic groups (lumping them
with polyphyletic groups as unnatural).  I coined the term "paraphylophobia"
for this conditioned response, and although that apparently makes them
angry, I hope it at least makes them think about it.
     In any case, I can see no good reason for them to object to
semi-paraphyletic groups (with Kinman markers making them informationally
                      ------Ken Kinman
>From: Curtis Clark <jcclark at CSUPOMONA.EDU>
>Reply-To: Curtis Clark <jcclark at CSUPOMONA.EDU>
>Subject: Re: Farewell to Species - reticulation
>Date: Wed, 2 Feb 2000 18:50:06 -0800
>At 10:43 AM 00.02.02 -0500, Thomas DiBenedetto wrote:
> >I would say that we have two species, but three taxa. The original
> >should not be "relegated to nomenclatural extinction", but recognized as
> >higher taxon. My view of a taxon is that it represents a lineage (branch,
> >or
> >system of branches)emanating from a common ancestor. The original taxon
> >still exists, and will continue to exist until all of its descendants are
> >extinct. The original taxon is, however, more complex than a simple
> >branch; that original single branch has given off a sublineage. [...]
>From a genetic standpoint, this is ludicrous. In many groups (e.g. annual
>plants), species form peripheral isolates all the time. Only occasionally
>do these become new species. To suggest that a taxonomic system should
>treat the ancestral species differently depending on whether peripatric
>speciation succeeded or failed effectively removes the system from the
>realm of real-world events. I'm no anti-cladist (Kinman has accused me of
>being a radical cladist), and I am a firm advocate of monophyletic higher
>taxa, but IMO shoehorning observed biology into a system that misrepresents
>it is on a par with accepting paraphyletic groups just because they are
>Curtis Clark        
>Biological Sciences Department             Voice: (909) 869-4062
>California State Polytechnic University      FAX: (909) 869-4078
>Pomona CA 91768-4032  USA                  jcclark at
Get Your Private, Free Email at

More information about the Taxacom mailing list