[Taxacom] Molecular vs. morphological evidence

John Grehan jgrehan at sciencebuff.org
Wed Jul 1 10:19:58 CDT 2009

> -----Original Message-----
> From: taxacom-bounces at mailman.nhm.ku.edu [mailto:taxacom-
> bounces at mailman.nhm.ku.edu] On Behalf Of Kenneth Kinman
> Subject: [Taxacom] Molecular vs. morphological evidence
> Dear All,
>       I guess we will just have to wait for the whole genome
> analysis to appear and see whether chimps clade with gorillas or with
> humans.  John seems to be pooh-poohing those results even before they
> appear, but I expect that it will go well beyond "molecular bean
> counting".  

Yes, that remains to be seen.

SINES and LINES are more like very long strings of beans,
> and given the large numbers and variety of such insertions, some of them
> no doubt were inserted uniquely in the ancestor of chimps and their
> sister group (whether that be gorillas or humans). 

"no doubt"? SINEs etc have recently been pushed as solving the inadequacies of other methods, but of course each of those methods wwas represented as the final proof. Molecular theorists appear to be jumping from one method to another as if the next will really be the last word.

If humans and
> orangutans uniquely share such insertions, that will be a great surprise
> to most of us. We'll just have to wait and see what the results actually
> are.  We can then debate just how overwhelming or underwhelming those
> results turn out to be.


>                -----Ken Kinman
> P.S. Whichever group (gorillas or humans) clade exclusively with chimps,
> we should then begin an intensive search for morphological
> synapomorphies which will confirm the molecular findings. It would be
> unwise to merely let the molecular findings stand on their own, and I
> fully expect that molecular and morphological data will be found which
> clearly support each other.

I find this contradictory. If molecular similarity is the proof then morphological synapomorphies are moot. Ironically, people have been search intensively for synapomorphies between humans and various great apes for decades now and so far there is about only one or two apomorphies that can be corroborated for humans and chimps vs 28+ for humans and orangutans. If they could not sustain the human-chimp link after all those decades I doubt that they will in the future.

John Grehan
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