overly-inflated Family Staphylinidae

Ken Kinman kinman2 at YAHOO.COM
Thu Feb 10 11:41:10 CST 2005

Dear Derek,
     I disagree that taking the Pselaphidae (= Omaliinae group) back out would *definitely* make Staphylinidae paraphyletic.  On the contrary, the Omaliinae grouping splits off at the base, before all the other staphylinids.  Therefore, this makes for a perfectly natural cladistic split of this huge group into two separate sister families.
     This seems preferable to letting Staphylinidae keep sucking in more and more families until it becomes equivalent to Staphylinoidea (which itself could be paraphyletic to all the Scarabaeiform groups; wouldn't that be a fine taxonomic mess).  In other words, this growing family could well become a taxonomic black-hole, which someone will end up having to split back up into Pselaphidae, Staphylinidae, and any other taxa that got sucked in trying to avoid paraphyly (you yourself indicated such a future possibility).  I just don't see the point in going down that slippery slope (of more and more taxonomic lumping) when it can be easily avoided now.  I think this alternative (more conservative) approach would promote stability in the long term and also create a more balanced classification now (rather than later).  It also seems less confusing calling it Family Pselaphidae, rather than the "Omaliinae group".   Anyway, something to think about.
P.S.  If you read other quotes by Darwin, it is clear that when he speaks of genealogical classifications, he also favored the use of paraphyletic taxa when an exgroup was clearly different from its parent taxon due to an accelerated evolutionary spurt.  I forget the quote, but he said it using very elegant 19th Century phraseology.

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