NT & modern cladistics

christian thompson cthompson at SEL.BARC.USDA.GOV
Wed Apr 16 10:35:08 CDT 2003

Dick, Don, et alia, are right when they say, to quote Dick:

"Despite wishes to the contrary, modern cladistics is
an outgrowth of NT."

Everyone one should know that Steve Farris started off in the NT group
and only later switch over the emerging American Museum school of
"cladisitcs," etc.  And thus was born "phenetic cladistics."

What has really been lost today is what Willi Hennig was really all
about. As working dipterist, I can tell you what Hennig really did was
produce "Argumentation Schemes," not cladograms, etc. There was nothing
about "modern cladistics" where you take the "total evidence," following
parsimony, run everything thru a computer and produce the best answer,
which for insects and their allies as published in Nature last year
showed that Hennig's flies where the sister-group to barnacles!
[Darwin's group!]

Hennig studied diverse "character systems," such as wing venation,
immature stages, male genitalia, etc., and look at a broad range of
exemplars, including fossils, as well as looking at distribution
(geographic) patterns. From all these sources of information he
developed his hypotheses, basing them on character evidence as he saw
it. Yes, selective character evidence. If some molecular sequences put
Drosophila with the barnacles, he would have ignored them.

Fortunately Willi Hennig died young and, thus, unlike Ernst Mayr, did
not have to suffer to see his Science and Name corrupted.

Oh, well ...

F. Christian Thompson
Systematic Entomology Lab., USDA
c/o Smithsonian Institution
MRC-0169 NHB
PO Box 37012
Washington, DC 20013-7012
(202) 382-1800 voice
(202) 786-9422 FAX
cthompso at sel.barc.usda.gov e-mail
www.diptera.org  web site

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