follow up on paraphyly / polyphyly

Derek Sikes dsikes at UCALGARY.CA
Wed Nov 10 13:12:25 CST 2004

Dear Taxacomers,

Thanks to those who have replied already. I thought I might add one
additional bit on this issue:

I have also explained these terms informally (although I expect the
students to understand them formally as well) as follows:

Monophyly: a natural group

Paraphyly: a natural but incomplete group

Polyphyly: an unnatural group

I don't know where exactly I learned these informal definitions but
they're not mine. The problem with these is students memorize them but
often don't understand them!

Derek S. Sikes, Assistant Professor
Division of Zoology
Department of Biological Sciences
University of Calgary
2500 University Drive NW
Calgary, Alberta, Canada, T2N 1N4

dsikes at

phone: 403-210-9819
FAX:  403-289-9311

"Remember that Truth alone is the matter you are in Search after; and
if you have been mistaken, let no Vanity reduce you to persist in your
mistake." Henry Baker, London, 1785

Entomological Society of Alberta:

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