Vernie Sagun sagun at UIUC.EDU
Wed Sep 15 15:42:07 CDT 2004

Dear Taxacomers,
I would like to ask about the term "autapomorphy", as I
understand this is a character state present in a taxon that
is not present in other taxa and is therefore
phylogenetically uniformative.  Autapomorphies are very
useful in creating keys and not useful in resolving
phylogeny.  But I have heard other views that say this is a
relative term, that clades could have a character state that
is "autapomorphic" for that clade, in the case of broader
(highly speciose or in ordinal level) phylogenies.  I believe
this is a misuse of the term since that "autapomorphic"
character state for that clade, is more appropriate to be
called a "synapomorphy".  The term autapomorphy can never be
realtive.  Can you help me clarify this?

Many thanks,
Vernie Sagun

Center for Biodiversity
Illinois Natural History Survey
607 E. Peabody Dr.,
Champaign, IL 61820-6970
Tel: (217)244 9220
Fax: (217)244 0729
email: sagun at

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