Darwin quotes (was Staphylinidae)

Ken Kinman kinman2 at YAHOO.COM
Thu Feb 10 13:24:58 CST 2005

Dear All,
      In my last post, responding to Derek's quotation from a letter of Darwin to Huxley, I referred to other Darwin quotes that help clarify his opinion on what constitutes a genealogical, natural classification.  Such quotes are found in Darwin's book (not a letter) where he elaborates more fully.  I found what I was looking for in a similar discussion I had on the DML (Dinosaur Mailing List) a few years ago.

      Note that in that particular case, it is in reference to the argument (often made by strict cladists) that one bacterium can be more closely related to a human than to another bacterium.  Of course this confounds "relatedness" with "relationship", which aren't necessarily the same thing.  Sometimes the example is used (I think Mayr and Ashlock, 1991, used it) of whether Charlemagne was more closely related to his brother than to a descendant who was hundreds of generations removed.  Not a perfect example, but it does get across the point that being in an exclusive clade does not necessarily mean being more closely "related" when large amounts of time and/or accelerated anagenetic change are involved.

     But ultimately, it always leads back to the subject of paraphyly and strict cladism's claim that it isn't natural.  Using Darwin quotes (out of their full context) to advance that claim is very misleading.  I can imagine Darwin and Mayr looking down on us, shaking their fingers, insisting that we don't take statements out of context.  Anyway, here is a link to the discussion I had on DML (which includes the quote I was referring to):


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