The nature of cladistics [was: Whooper; Canadian geese split; paraphyly]

Ken Kinman kinman2 at YAHOO.COM
Fri Nov 19 09:10:21 CST 2004

Dear All,
      This is the real heart of the matter.  We DO NOT invent paraphyletic higher taxa either.  They are just so difficult (often impossible) to document, due to the overwhelmingly lack of fossil specimens, that it is ususally just more realistic to employ cladistic simplification (a useful Hennigian convention, at least when it's not carried to excess).

     There is a real Tree of Life that we are trying to document, with real higher taxa, and it is only our taxonomic cuts that are invented (and arbitrary to various degrees).  Refusing to formally recognize ANY useful paraphyletic taxon (when we CAN document it) is about as arbitrary as it gets.
          ------- Ken Kinman
P.S.  Given that species are fuzzy and everchanging, trying to separate phylogenetic from tokogenetic processes can be just as fuzzy.
Curtis Clark wrote:
     We discover paraphyletic species.  We invent paraphyletic higher taxa.

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