Paraphyly is real (and inevitable)

Thomas Lammers lammers at VAXA.CIS.UWOSH.EDU
Mon Jan 14 08:06:02 CST 2002

At 11:27 AM 1/12/02 -0600, you wrote:
>     Discussions of Linnean ranks really miss (and obscure) the much
> deeper conceptual issues.  If you think about it long enough, it seems
> clear to me that paraphyly is not only real, natural, and
> "scientific"----even more than that, paraphyly is INEVITABLE for
> evolution to continue.
>     If mother species didn't paraphyletically give rise to daughter
>species, the evolutionary process would CEASE to continue.  Sister species
>and higher sister groups are a very useful Hennigian "convention", but it
>is the unfounded belief that they are real and natural which has generated
>this absurd schism in biological systematics.

Give it up, Ken.  Insightful souls have been screaming that The Emperor Has
No Clothes for years, but no one listens.  The saddest, most pathetic fact
about the extremist view of phylogenetic taxonomy is that it bears so
little relationship about what we know about speciation and evolutionary
processes.  In fact, it completely flies in the face of what we know about
the mechanisms of evolutionary.  In order to operate, cladistics assumes
conditions that simply do not obtain in the real world.  That makes it
doubly irritating when we are told that only by cladistifying can we be
"scientific."  It seems to me that the past 20 years of
stick-figure-building have been an enormous step backwards from the days
when Clausen et al., Verne Grant, G. L. Stebbins and others helped us
understand the BIOLOGY of evolution. Getting a pretty pattern to come out
just right is now far more important than finding out what happened.

And that's all I'm going to say about that.  Resume squabbling.

Thomas G. Lammers, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor and Curator of the Herbarium (OSH)
Department of Biology and Microbiology
University of Wisconsin Oshkosh
Oshkosh, Wisconsin 54901-8640 USA

e-mail:       lammers at
phone:      920-424-1002
fax:           920-424-1101

Plant systematics; classification, nomenclature, evolution, and
biogeography of the Campanulaceae s. lat.

"Today's mighty oak is yesterday's nut that stood his ground."
                                                 -- Anonymous

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