Paraphyly and names

Thomas Pape thomas.pape at NRM.SE
Fri Jan 18 12:03:00 CST 2002

> Nice. So if you have 4 species, you will construct 3 higher taxa, for 10
> species 9 taxa, for 100 species 99 taxa etc.

No, no, no !!! We keep discussing apples and oranges.

Tom will not construct any higher taxa. Any cladogram will contain a number of clades (subtaxa or higher taxa) depending on the number of terminal taxa it contains. As soon as we want to communicate about one or more of these higher taxa - or for that matter about any subset of the terminal taxa, ancestors, etc. - we need names. The question is: Do we want to 'name' entities that do not have reality?

The 'truncated clade' Amphibia does not have reality, in the sense that we cannot make statements about it except about what it does NOT have, like the amniote egg - and what it SHARES with others, like the tetrapod condition. This is why Ken is mistaken when he writes that "In order to classify, we HAVE to mark boundaries anyway, so why shouldn't we be able to use some of those major boundaries as terminations as well as originations." 

Thomas Pape
Naturhistoriska riksmuseet

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