More on Australopithecus 'knuckle-walking' characters

Richard Jensen rjensen at SAINTMARYS.EDU
Thu Aug 19 10:29:06 CDT 2004

John Grehan wrote:

> Their approach seemed to me to epitomize what I think of as phenetics
> (understanding that this apparently does not conform to everyone else's
> view of phenetics on this list).
> John Grehan

Yes, the analyses reported by Richmond and Strait are phenetic analyses.  In
this case, they have evaluated a small set of characters and demonstrated
rather clear phenetic differences (and similarities) among the groups.
These phenetic differences can be used to identify potential synapomorphies
and do provide insight into patterns of character (and taxon) evolution. As
I see it, that's exactly the point that Richmond and Strait are making.
Phenetic similarity may reflect phylogenetic relationship; on the other
hand, it may reflect convergent or parallel evolution.  Richmond and Strait
seem to be saying the former.

Richard J. Jensen              | tel: 574-284-4674
Department of Biology      | fax: 574-284-4716
Saint Mary's College         | e-mail: rjensen at
Notre Dame, IN 46556    |

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