[Taxacom] orangutan outrage

Kenneth Kinman kennethkinman at webtv.net
Thu Jun 25 11:44:26 CDT 2009

Dear All, 
       The genome sequencing of a hylobatid (gibbon) began
in 2006, and such a whole genome (for a lesser ape) is a perfectly good
outgroup to greater ape genomes. It should be available shortly (if it
isn't already).  An Old World monkey genome could also be used (or other
primates), but gibbons are phylogenetically closer. 
        As for John's contention that whole genomes will
make morphological studies irrelevant or scientifically meaningless, I
disagree. It only means that we have a new tool to better show us which
morphologies are most relevant to phylogeny (such as tricolpate pollen
for angiosperms).  The old sequence studies relied more heavily on
single base changes, which being simpler make them less reliable (not
necessarily "unreliable").  Genome studies will be more reliable, not
only because there are more bases to study, but many more examples of
complex sequence changes (like SINES, LINES, etc.).  But complex
morphological characters are still important, and this is particularly
true of fossil taxa (for which we have very few molecular sequences
available).  Anyway, if orangutans and humans really are sister groups,
their genomes should show evidence of this.  
        --------Ken Kinman

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