Paraphyly=mistakes? (There's the rub)

Peter Stevens peter.stevens at MOBOT.ORG
Tue Jan 8 18:53:02 CST 2002

There are two issues here, recognition and understanding.  Yes, no-one will
argue that many paraphyletic groups are recognisable.  But my hunch is that
they are rarely (I would hate to say never) interpreted as if they are
paraphyletic, unless one is told otherwise.  The structure of "folk"
taxonomies is pretty much hierarchical in the same sense as a "Linnaean"
hierarchy and in the same sense as Darwin's box-in-box classification.  I
think that we are talking about nouns and adjectives and such-like things

Peter S.

>         I've tried not to say anything and let everyone else flesh this
>one out, but this discussion has gone around before and I'll say something
>short along the lines of what I've said before.
>         Okay, so paraphyletic groups do not include all of the original
>ancestors' descendents, and may not represent what some people would call
>"natural" or "real" groups.  I say, so what?  It doesn't mean that a
>paraphyletic group is not a useful way of communication.  Many people have
>an idea of what "reptiles" means, or "moths" means.  I personally feel,
>"natural/real" or not, if the person using a specific grouping *knows* that
>grouping is paraphyletic, and, under appropriate circumstances, passes that
>information along to the audience, there shouldn't really be any
>problem.  If some want to call this a mistake, that's their choice.
>         james
>James K. Adams
>Phone: (706)272-4427
>FAX:  (706)272-2235
>Visit the Georgia Lepidoptera Website:

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