"Fuzziness" (Continuity and classification)

Ken Kinman kinman at HOTMAIL.COM
Fri Jul 27 16:39:15 CDT 2001

      Rejection of strict cladism is NOT a rejection of classifications
based on evolutionary kinship.  Where did that idea come from?   It is
rejection of the notion that they must be based ONLY on evolutionary
      And since species really don't split into two daughter species (a
daughter species buds off a mother species), the whole binary splitting
model is only a simplistic approximation of evolutionary kinships anyway.
Add to that the reticulate nature of much evolution, and strict
cladifications wouldn't be an accurate representation anyway (even if they
were stable), and in my opinion they never can be no matter how much
information we have.  I certainly don't want to go back to traditional
paraphyletic groups that are not labelled as such (and do not show where the
exgroups fit in cladistically).  That's what the cladistic movement should
be about---- explicitness and testability.  But strict cladism has gone
overboard and thrown the baby out with the bath water when it comes to
classifications.  Anyway, there is now an alternative to going back to the
bad old days of classifications that were inexplicit, often untestable, and
autocratic.  A return to a more extreme eclecticism is the not what I want,
but fear that PhyloCode might end up triggering a movement in that
direction.  Scarey stuff in my opinion.
P.S.   I do agree with Tom that taxa should be anchored on characters
whenever possible.  I tried to get the PhyloCoders to at least anchor
Mammalia on a taxon so that it would at the very least approximate the
traditional taxon based on the traditional characters of three ear ossicles
and the mammalian jaw joint.  Unfortunately, I get the feeling they still
want to make Mammalia a crown group and anchor it on the fossil-poor
monotremes.  Therefore I really can't blame cladists who don't like
PhyloCode.  And I was informed recently that there are no plans to omit
generic names from the initial testing of PhyloCode.  They seem hell bent on
testing it big time all at once, and will apparently not be restricting
their initially testing to higher taxa.  Looks like it will be all out, sink
or swim.  *******************************************
>From: Curtis Clark <jcclark at CSUPOMONA.EDU>
>Reply-To: Curtis Clark <jcclark at CSUPOMONA.EDU>
>Subject: Re: "Fuzziness" (Continuity and classification)
>Date: Fri, 27 Jul 2001 11:20:04 -0700
>At 10:41 AM 7/27/01, Thomas DiBenedetto wrote:
>>Namely, the notion of grounding names in
>>relationships rather than characters.
>It seems to me that the strength of the current code is its grounding of
>names in *specimens*. I don't think Phylocode has adequately addressed
>But the need for a system to name lineage groups is a separate question
>from the rough edges in the (as yet unimplemented) Phylocode.
>I have to admit that I'm taken aback by a lot of the hostility (most of it
>from, or repeated by, Ken). Mayr rags on holophyletic groups, and yet
>studies birds, a well-established holophyletic group. Many people oppose
>Phylocode in any manifestation, almost as if they wanted to *prevent* the
>naming of lineage groups. It's one thing to argue about the efficacy of
>different methods for inferring kinship, but I detect (elsewhere as well as
>here) a resistance to the entire idea of basing classification on kinship.
>It's almost as if we should accept Aves because it is a grade, and the
>evidence of its holophyly is one of those dirty secrets to be swept under
>the carpet.
>An understanding of evolutionary kinship has proven useful in many areas of
>biology. Why is there so much resistance to it in the systematics
>Curtis Clark                  http://www.csupomona.edu/~jcclark/
>Biological Sciences Department             Voice: (909) 869-4062
>California State Polytechnic University      FAX: (909) 869-4078
>Pomona CA 91768-4032  USA                  jcclark at csupomona.edu

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