NOT-inflated Family Staphylinidae

Ken Kinman kinman2 at YAHOO.COM
Thu Feb 10 22:24:40 CST 2005

Dear Michael,
      Well, if I am "unbalanced" as you call it, I guess I am in good company.  Whether the "young turks" (of which you seem to be a vocal member) prevail in the long term remains to be seen.  As for those of us who see no problem (and even advantages) in recognizing a Class Reptilia giving rise to an exgroup, Class Aves, you might be surprised that the majority of biologists may well outnumber you in spite of the preferential treatment strict cladists seem to have gotten from certain funding agencies in the U.S. government in recent years.  That does not make strict cladism a good thing in the long run (governmental thinking is often notoriously short-term oriented).  Nor does it mean such preferential treatment will continue indefinitely once strict cladism's weaknesses are shown in its eventual lack of ability to adequately predict future discoveries and knowledge.  That gravy-train may end sooner than you think.

      As for the Coleoptera in particular, I suppose you prefer the subordinal phylogeny presented by the Tree of Life.  But that subordinal topology is certainly not universally accepted, and the alternative topology with Polyphaga at the base of Coleoptera should not be shrugged off as particularly unlikely.  If evolutionary entomology has a cladistic Achilles heel, it is probably the Coleoptera, so I recommend not digging in your heels too obstinately.  You might find yourself painted into an embarrassingly small corner.  But I suspect the most serious coleopterists on taxacom will be taking this alternative a little more seriously (at least I hope so).  I am far from being a "typological old duffer", and you apparently seriously underestimate my grasp of the history of taxonomy (both the good and the bad).  I suggest that you have much to learn, as do many strict cladists.  And if you think I am defending the old Staphylinidae per se, then you clearly have not carefully read what I said.
    --- Good luck,
               Ken Kinman

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