New Lucy

John Grehan jgrehan at SCIENCEBUFF.ORG
Fri Mar 26 14:22:13 CST 2004


The preponderance of the morphological evidence is that the orangutan-human
similarities are synapomorphies as they are uniquely shared features and
there are far more of these for humans and orangutans than any other
human-ape combination.

If one views gene sequence similarity as the basis of phylogeny then of
course the morphology does not count. The morphological evidence conflicts
with most (but not all) molecular sequence studies. As far as I can see,
molecular phylogenies are based on the assumption of that there is a steady
divergence of base pair sequences and therefore similarity of sequence
matches is a direct measure of phylogenetic relationship. This is admitted
by at least some molecular systematists to be nothing more than an
assumption. If it is not true, then molecular it would not be surprising to
find molecular phylogenies are not always corroborated in morphology.

John Grehan

At 09:24 AM 3/26/2004 -0600, Ken Kinman wrote:
>Hi John,
>      This new Lucy painting is interesting, but I wonder how much you
> have explored a third (often neglected) phylogeny:
>        Orangutans (Humans (chimps + gorillas)).
>   In this case, you would also expect to find orangutan features in
> Lucy.  And this phylogeny would also maintain the African clade.
>       But what most bothers me about the proposed orangutan + human clade
> is that you have yet to present any molecular evidence to back up the
> morphological evidence.  Until then, I have to remain skeptical.
>            --- Good luck,
>                          Ken

Dr. John Grehan
Director of Science and Collections
Buffalo Museum of Science
1020 Humboldt Parkway
Buffalo, New York 14211-1293
Voice 716-896-5200 x372
Fax 716-897-6723
jgrehan at

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