Predictivity (was: NOT-inflated Family Staphylinidae)

Curtis Clark jcclark-lists at EARTHLINK.NET
Sat Feb 12 21:10:41 CST 2005

on 2005-02-12 20:49 Ken Kinman wrote:
> So is Nematocera predictive?  You betcha it is!!!  If you find a fly
> (possessing Dipteran synapomorphies) which lacks the synapomorphies
> of Brachycera (= Orthorrhappa and Cyclorrhapa), you can be almost
> certain it is a Nematoceran.

If you find an amniote without the synapomorphies of Aves or Mammalia,
you can be almost certain it is a reptile. But what does that tell you
about as-yet-unobserved features? It probably doesn't have
"bird-feathers" and it's unlikely to simultaneously have hair, milk, and
a temporomandibular joint, and, oh, yeah, it has an amnion, but what
else can we predict about it? Scales? Three-chambered heart?
Poikilothermic? Legs lateral to the trunk rather than ventral? Possibly
wrong on all counts. Really, the only things you can predict are
synapomorphies of the amniotes, and the lack of synapomorphies of
mammals and birds. The very thing that makes the paraphyletic Reptilia
natural (that it can be specified unambiguously by Boolean operations on
clades) makes it superfluous, since the very clades that define it
possess all the necessary information and predictive power.

Curtis Clark        
Web Coordinator, Cal Poly Pomona                 +1 909 979 6371
Professor, Biological Sciences                   +1 909 869 4062

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