[Taxacom] orangutan outrage

John Grehan jgrehan at sciencebuff.org
Thu Jun 25 07:31:58 CDT 2009

Comparisons of whole genomes of great apes will do no better than
partial genomes as it would lack outgroup comparison to provide a braod
comparative context for the distribution of bases. Whole genome
comparaison are also no solution anyway because of the underlying
problem of not being able to individually recognize apomorphic states
for base relationships.

Its popular to believe in molecular simiarlity as the proof of
phylogeny, but its never been more than a belief system based on
assumptions that have never been serously challenged from morphology.
There are many instances of molecular-morphological incongruence, but
for most groups no one really cares. In the case of human origins the
problem cannot be ignored, efforts to do so notwithstanding.

If the molecualr theorists and Ken are correct, then morphological
systematics is no longer a science as it cannot stand as independent
evidence. The fossil record is also rendered scientifically meaningless
as there would be no emprical way of making an informed judgement of
relationship in the absence of molecular support. There will no longer
be scientific justification for employing morphological systematists
(one museum director of a natural history museum who himself studied
fossil 'hominids' said as much). Morphological systematics would be
little more than mysticism. These are the bottom line implicaitons that
no one seems to want to recognize. Even morphological systematists
(including almost all paleoanthropologists) are willing to gut
themselves of any scientific substance.

John Grehan

> -----Original Message-----
> From: taxacom-bounces at mailman.nhm.ku.edu [mailto:taxacom-
> bounces at mailman.nhm.ku.edu] On Behalf Of Kenneth Kinman
> Sent: Wednesday, June 24, 2009 11:11 PM
> To: taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu
> Subject: [Taxacom] orangutan outrage
> Dear All,
>       It seems to me that all of this will soon be settled by a
> comparison of the WHOLE genomes of the great apes.  The most
> synapomorphies will probably be more complex molecular signals (not
> substitutions, additions, or deletions of just single bases).
>       The big question in my mind is still whether chimps clade
> exclusively with gorillas or with humans.  If, on the other hand,
> orangutans and humans do exclusively clade together, I will be very
> surprised.  I still believe that the morphological similarities
> orangutans and humans will turn out to be plesiomorphies (especially
> chimps and gorillas form an exclusive clade).  I wouldn't call
> hypothesis either "wacky" or "loopy", but I still think it is highly
> unlikely.
>           --------Cheers,
>                           Ken Kinman
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