Cladistics and "Eclecticism"

Dave Walter D.Walter at MAILBOX.UQ.EDU.AU
Wed Feb 6 16:30:27 CST 2002

>>From: P.Hovenkamp
>>Two questions, well, three actually:
>>1. If a group of people (say, a mixed group of 100 men, women and children)
>>embarked on a spaceship and were to settle on Mars - would that effectively
>>split Homo sapiens into two species (assuming contact would be scarce and
>>limited to raw materials, not frozen sperm etc.) the moment the spaceship
>>took off?

They wouldn't be biological species if both populations were 'potentially
interbreeding'.  Since many species consist of isolated populations, no
space ship is needed (you could have said 'if a group of Polynesians
embarked in dugouts and settled Hawaii ...').

Cladistically, there would be no evidence of a branching event, although I
suppose founder effect could cause pseudoapomorphies.  Of course, one of
the problems with trying to apply a cladistic species concept is when to
stop splitting.

>>2. If a group of people (say, a mixed group of 100 men, women and children)
>>embarked on a plane which later crashed into a high mountain in the Andes
>>(alas, no survivors) - would the situation to us survivors on the ground
>>(and in other planes) be different in any way from the situation we would
>>have had in the first case?

I imagine we would be a lot sadder (although given climate on Mars, I
suppose there is no difference), but it certainly wouldn't help fix the
logical flaw inherent in the concept of monophyly, any more than
'potentially interbreeding' fixes the biological species concept.
Both arre still useful, if flawed tools, though.

Dave Walter

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