Darwin quotes (was Staphylinidae)

Derek Sikes dsikes at UCALGARY.CA
Thu Feb 10 13:09:36 CST 2005

Dear Ken,

Talk about taking a quote out of context!

Your quote, which was cut off from its beginning (reproduced in full
below), clearly indicates that Darwin thinks the ARRANGEMENT of the
groups should be (no, MUST be) strictly genealogical - and follows,
with your quote, about how genealogy does not necessarily reflect the
amount of difference.  In other words, he is stating that taxonomists
have arranged organisms based on degrees of difference, but
nevertheless, they should arrange them by strict genealogy. At least
this is my interpretation.

"But I must explain my meaning more fully. I believe that the
*arrangement* of the groups within each class, in due subordination and
relation to each other, must be strictly genealogical in order to be
natural; but that the *amount *of difference in the several branches or
groups, though allied in the same degree in blood to their common
progenitor, may differ greatly, being due to the different degrees of
modification which they have undergone; and this is expressed by the
forms being ranked under different genera, families, sections, or
orders. "  http://www.bartleby.com/11/1401.html

Also, the Pselaphines are only one lineage of the omaliine group -
there are many "true staphylinids" in that group. Obviously if you
split the entire group off that would help reduce the bloat of the
Staphylinidae, but I thought you were asking only about returning the
pselaphines to family rank (which would make the staphs paraphyletic).

I agree that stability should be preserved - but to have a truly
phylogenetic classification of the staphylinoids requires a robust
phylogeny. Once in hand, hopefully, changes that minimize the
inevitable instability will be made.

Thanks for the stimulating comments!


On 10-Feb-05, at 12:24 PM, Ken Kinman wrote:

> 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):
>   http://dml.cmnh.org/2001Jan/msg00328.html
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 ucalgary.ca

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

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