Molecular taxonomy: on way out?

Richard Pyle deepreef at BISHOPMUSEUM.ORG
Tue Jul 26 16:23:43 CDT 2005

I think part of the confusion on this thread (which I've admittedly only
skimmed, having just retunred from a week abroad) involves what is meant by
the word "information". This word, by itself, does not immediately translate
to "knowledge".  I could send to this list a message containing only the


All the "information" necessary to understand my proclamation is there, but
I seriously doubt that any readers of this list could view that series of
1's and 0's and be in a position to agree or disagree with me. You would
first need to understand how to interpret the information, in order to
convert it to knowledge. (hint:

Unfortunately, we still seem to be (intellectually) a LONG way from being
able to convert the information contained within the genome into knowledge
(or, perhaps more accurately, confident speculation) about evolutionary
phylogenies. But our ignorance of interpretation does not negate the
position that the best phylogenetic *information* (for extant organisms)
ultimately exists in the genome. Note that I said "best", not "only".  There
are issues of memes, and certainly the fossil record (among other historical
lines of evidence) that can influence our knowledge, err....confident
speculation, of phylogenetic patterns.


> -----Original Message-----
> From: Taxacom Discussion List [mailto:TAXACOM at LISTSERV.NHM.KU.EDU]On
> Behalf Of Kurt Milton Pickett
> Sent: Thursday, July 21, 2005 8:16 AM
> Subject: Re: Molecular taxonomy: on way out?
> > You may well be right, especially re "the current systematic
> > approaches"; but total DNA extracts contain ALL the available
> > information for extant organisms, in relatively accessible form.
> Well . . . no, not all:
> Freudenstein, J. V., K. M. Pickett, M. Simmons, J. W. Wenzel.  2003.
>  From basepairs to birdsongs:  phylogenetic data in the age of
> genomics.  Cladistics 19: 333-347.
> ============================
> Kurt Milton Pickett
> Theodore Roosevelt Fellow
> Division of Invertebrate Zoology
> American Museum of Natural History
> 79th Street at Central Park West
> New York, NY 10024-5192
> (212) 313-7622
> kpickett at

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