[Taxacom] orangutan outrage

Michael Heads michael.heads at yahoo.com
Thu Jun 25 20:25:11 CDT 2009

Dear Ken and colleagues,
Can non-trivial questions really be 'settled' in taxonomy (or any science)? Maybe a 'thorough comparison' would settle the question, but what exactly constitutes a 'thorough comparison'? And who would get to decide? (presumably not a sub-profesional taxonomist). Or do we vote?
I'm really writing to ask if anyone can direct me to a standard, up-to-date phylogeographic study of Homo sapiens. Templeton 2002 ('out of Africa again and again', Nature) is interesting but doesn't give a standard phylogeny or any geographic detail beyond 'Africa'. I'm interested in whether the different connections between Africa and other regions involve different parts of Africa.    

Michael Heads

Wellington, New Zealand.

My papers on biogeography are at: http://tiny.cc/RiUE0

--- On Thu, 6/25/09, Kenneth Kinman <kennethkinman at webtv.net> wrote:

From: Kenneth Kinman <kennethkinman at webtv.net>
Subject: [Taxacom] orangutan outrage
To: taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu
Date: Thursday, June 25, 2009, 3:10 PM

Dear All,
      It seems to me that all of this will soon be settled by a thorough
comparison of the WHOLE genomes of the great apes.  The most convincing
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 between
orangutans and humans will turn out to be plesiomorphies (especially if
chimps and gorillas form an exclusive clade).  I wouldn't call Grehan's
hypothesis either "wacky" or "loopy", but I still think it is highly
                          Ken Kinman


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