[Taxacom] Pongidae (was: orangutan outrage)

Kenneth Kinman kennethkinman at webtv.net
Thu Jun 25 21:18:22 CDT 2009

Richard Zander wrote:    
     If gorilla and pan were on a very short shared branch that did not
show up in molecular cladograms, then the paraphyletic group homo-pongo
would be the ancestor of gorilla-pan (mapping the traits that
characterize the taxa). Any evidence for a short molecular branch
connecting gorilla and pan?              
 Dear All,
      Richard Zander brings up a very important point.  The group
"Homo-Pongo" (and their extinct relatives) could very well have
paraphyletically given rise to a Gorilla-Pan clade.  If so, one might
regard gorillas as just overgrown chimps.  This would not surprise me in
the least.  And it would also mean that the morphological similarities
between humans and orangutans are retained plesiomorphies of the great
apes that were subsequently lost in a Gorilla-Pan clade.           
      That is why I think a thorough evaluation of great ape genomes is
so important.  Whether the first such evaluation is "thorough" enough to
convince the vast majority of scientists remains to be seen.  My own
personal expectation is that it will support an African clade (Gorilla,
Pan, and Homo) with orangutans as an outgroup (sorry, John).  However, I
have no strong expectations whether Pan (chimps) will clade exclusively
with gorillas or with humans.  We shall see.   Until then, I see no need
to comment further.  And as I have pointed out several times, my Family
Pongidae will remain paraphyletic with respect to Family Hominidae no
matter what the results are.  The results will only affect which genus
of Pongidae that I will code as the sister group to Hominidae.        
           --------Ken Kinman


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