Fwd: Re: [TAXACOM] Human origins

John Grehan jgrehan at TPBMAIL.NET
Thu Jan 22 22:37:02 CST 2004

>Date: Thu, 22 Jan 2004 22:18:08 +1300
>To: Ken Kinman <kinman2 at YAHOO.COM>
>From: John Grehan <jgrehan at tpbmail.net>
>Subject: Re: [TAXACOM] Human origins
>In response to Ken:
>At 06:26 PM 1/22/04 -0800, you wrote:
>>Dear All,
>>       What bothers me most (as it apparently does John
>>as well) is the paucity of explicit morphological
>>synapomorphies for a chimp-human clade.
>Actually what really bothers me most is the absence of explicit
>morphological synapomorphies for a chimp-Australopithecus-human clade. Its
>bad enough that there may be a lack of human-chimp synapomorphies, but to
>find NOTHING to include the fossil group is really disturbing. If
>creationists wanted ammunition its staring them in the face. I just
>recently asked Roger Lewin if he knew any such characters. Admittedly he
>is more of a journalist, but with a long career link with hominid research
>I thought he should at least know. First he responded with bipedalism and
>dental enamel for humans and Australopithecus until I reminded him that
>the same dental characters also apply to the orangutan. He concluded that
>he had no idea of any at all, but he didn't seem all that perturbed.
>Anyway, genetic proved the chimpanzee relationship with humans.
>>Although Imust admit the molecular evidence seems rather
>>convincing (from what very little I personally have
>>had time to examine), the lack of rigorous cladistic
>>analysis on the morphological side is very disturbing.
>My greatest concern has been the lack of rigorous cladistic
>characterization of the characters used in the various analyses.
>>       Anyway, I still haven't ruled out the
>>possibility that a "chimp-human" clade and an
>>"orangutan-human" clade are BOTH wrong, and that
>>Hominidae split off between an "orangutan" clade and a
>>"gorilla-chimp" clade.  I am truly undecided at this
>>point in this case.  I wish I had more time to study
>>it in detail myself, but I will nevertheless be
>>watching the debate carefully as it unfolds.
>I think the orangutan-chimp alternatives will provide an interesting test
>case of the whole question of whether genetic similarity can be viewed as
>the last word on phylogeny as so widely believed. The number of
>human-orangutan synapomorphies looks like its climbing to a current total
>of 38.
>John Grehan
>>          ------ Cheers,
>>                  Ken Kinman
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