Classifications (and Darwin's "Mistake")

Ken Kinman kinman at HOTMAIL.COM
Tue Jul 16 02:09:42 CDT 2002

     If you would carefully read Carpenter's paper, you would see that he
has done the kinds of things you suggest need to be done.  He has a fine
cladogram, with branch length values shown for every single branch (clearly
quantifying "degree of change" in a genealogical context).
     But he goes further by doing a quantitative evolutionary systematic
analysis, and he calculates "information content scores" for the various
possible taxa.  I'm sure you'd love its precision and objectivity.  The
resulting classification therefore maximizes information content in an
objective manner (which could be the basis for computer algorithms that
would simplify the task----plug in your raw data and let it crunch the
numbers for you).
      I have discussed with him how much I like this objective approach, and
the only problem is the "form" of the final classification in which he
adopts a sort of Wileyian system of sequencing and conventions which is very
abstract and user unfriendly.  Unfortunately when he published this paper
(1993), the Kinman System was not yet available.
      Such results (however precise, objective, and rich in information
content) have little use if it isn't converted into a user-friendly format
that people can relate to.  By combining Carpenter's mathematical approach
with the Kinman System's "presentation" methodologies, I think you have
something that is far superior to a mere cladogram with numbered branches.
It has the best of everything.  The two "reality variables" are carefully
integrated together into one "presentation variable" (as you call it).  We
certainly aren't just "jamming" them together like a peanut butter and jelly
      Here's the full citation, which I would strongly recommend to anyone
interested in these discussions.   Carpenter, Kent E., 1993.  "Optimal
Cladistic and Quantitative Evolutionary Classifications as illustrated by
Fusilier fishes (Teleostei: Caesionidae)".  Syst. Biol., 42(2):142-154.
Try it, you might actually like it.  Carpenter seems to be more
"clado-friendly" than Knox.
         ------- Ken Kinman

Send and receive Hotmail on your mobile device:

More information about the Taxacom mailing list