Consensus (was: Google for Internet Database of all life...)
jgrehan at SCIENCEBUFF.ORG
Thu Mar 23 08:10:45 CST 2006
> From: Taxacom Discussion List [mailto:TAXACOM at LISTSERV.NHM.KU.EDU] On
> Behalf Of Ken Kinman
> It really surprises me that you of all people wouldn't recognize
> a paraphyletic Pongidae is inherently more stable than chopping it up
> arranging the pieces in every possible cladification possible.
Me of all people? Since when have I stood for stability in science?
One of the
> results is that we have at least four different concepts of Family
> Hominidae: (1) Homo and its extinct relatives; (2) Homo + Pan and
> relatives; (3) Homo + Pan + Gorilla (i.e. African great apes); and (4)
> Homo + Pan + Gorilla + Pongo (all great apes). Strict cladification
> completely destabilized the meaning of both Pongidae and Hominidae.
> why? Because Hennig came up with a rule against paraphyly and a bunch
> Ivory Tower types spread the practice to their students and anyone
> who would listen (and increasingly penalize those who resisted). So
> you write to a museum asking for material of Pongidae or Hominidae
> days, you'd better clarify exactly what you mean.
Don't know about the "Ivory Tower types" but when it comes to Pongidae
you are right, cladistic criteria do necessarily lead to "Pongidae"
becoming a phylogenetically different grouping from synonymy with the
As for alternatives, one already published by Schwartz (1986) (which
does not list all taxa that may be included) is:
Dryopithecus (thin enameled taxa only)
* - inclusion of Morotopithecus not in Schwartz (1986) but inferred from
Schwartz (1983) based on uniquely shared similarity of incisive foramen
Of course this classification needs to be 'tested' through scientific
critique, but also of course the scientific standards of higher primate
evolutionary studies are so defective in this respect as to be
Abandoning a paraphyletic Pongidae, or Amphibia, or
> Reptilia (etc.) has done nothing but cause more and more confusion.
>From what I have seen of higher primate systematics there is no shortage
of confusion with the current classification.
> Cladification is sort of like water----we obviously need it, but too
> of it and it drowns you.
That might be a nice rhetorical statement, but I think there is no such
thing as "too much" of anything in science. One makes one's jusdgemetn
call according to one's criteria. In the case of higher primate
systematics, a closer evolutionary relationship between humans and
orangutans does demand a revision of the taxonomy - cladistics or no
Hey, I think even the
> Encyclopaedia Britannica still uses the paraphyletic Family Pongidae
> great apes, minus hominids), so I still have plenty of company on
If what is good for the masses is the criteria for what is good science
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