Lucy in Newsweek

Sun Apr 4 11:28:15 CDT 2004

Curtis -

Kind of you not to point out that my skepticism about molecular based
phylogenies is really just a "gut-feeling."

If push came to shove, I'm pretty skeptical about morphology based phylogeny,
too. Also a "gut-feeling," but at least it come from years of using it and
the frustration that came with it. That's why I find Rich's suggestion that
there isn't just one phylogeny intriguing. That thought had already occurred to
me, but I didn't guts to say it in public. But this idea is also expressed by
your statement several posts back that we will never find the true phylogeny and
will always be selecting among competing hypotheses (Sorry if bungled this
reference a bit).

I do see some advantages to molecular phylogeny. I can be done by people with
little prior knowledge of the group and that eliminates certain biases that
the more traditional worker usually bring to a study. Additionally, it can be
done relatively quickly. This compression it time gives us a better picture of
how all-over-the-place phylogenetic hypotheses can be, and this may add some
additional skepticism, especially amoung those who seem all to ready to use
these results without careful evaluation. As you have expressed before the proof
is in the pudding. In the past, that pudding was made in bit and pieces and
hard evaluate. Perhaps making sausage is better analogy.

A question: How do phylogenies based on nuclear DNA compare to those based on
mDNA for the same taxon, or for that matter compared to the DNA in other
organelles. I guess a simpler question would be: How do they compare when simply
based on different sequences?


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