Paraphyly, Aves, man, etc.

Ken Kinman kinman at HOTMAIL.COM
Mon Jan 28 20:01:42 CST 2002

     Sometimes I get the feeling I'm banging my head on a brick wall, but
anyway here we go again.  Man is a member of genus Homo, which is in Order
Primates, Class Mammalia, Phylum Chordata, Kingdom Metazoa.  You can call me
a mammal or a metazoan, but *please* don't call me a Sarcopterygian
(although I do have sarcopterygian ancestors).  I am typing this message
with hands, not fleshy-fins.  There is nothing wrong with nesting taxa, as
long as you don't go overboard like strict cladists do.
     By the way, I was rather taken aback by the suggestion that I'm just
"winging it" with no "principles" in my methodology.  The Library of
Congress has two copies of The Kinman System (my 1994 book), and plenty of
universities have it too (so interlibrary loan is always an option as well).
  Take a look at it sometime, you might even like parts of it (after all, my
coding is heavily cladified).  Just because I am not a strictly cladistic
disciplinarian doesn't mean I have no principles.
     Anyway, I was rather disappointed that Thomas seems to be slipping back
into the argument (with Zdenek Skala) that paraphyletic groups are not
"real".  The human decisions involved in establishing boundaries are just as
arbitrary whether you are an eclecticist or a strict cladist.
      Strict cladism is sort of like saying it is okay if you establish an
eastern border of Colorado, but if I also want to use that very same
boundary as the western border of Kansas its suddenly not alright.  If
States truly "evolved" (from east to west), Colorado would have to be
cladistically a sub-state of Kansas, and Kansas would in turn be only a
sub-state of Missouri.  It is not surprising that it has repeatedly been
pointed out that strict cladism lacks "class concepts" and therefore cannot
produce true classifications.  Have you read Eric Knox's 1998 paper yet?
     And finally, this argument about eclecticism being "non-transparent"
doesn't hold water any more either.  My classifications are eclectic and
they are quite explicit and transparent.  Anyway, my expanded Aves is a
holophyletic group, not paraphyletic, so maybe I can at least convince some
strict cladists on that particular proposal (if I keep pointing out it a
"Clade").   Bang, ouch, bang, ouch---is any of this head-banging doing any
good at all?   Now where did I put that bottle of aspirin?
      -----   Ken Kinman

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