[Taxacom] Pongidae (was: orangutan outrage)

John Grehan jgrehan at sciencebuff.org
Sat Jun 27 10:15:20 CDT 2009

What I see in the responses by Richard Zander and Ken Kinman is this
determination that the molecular evidence is really, really, right no
matter how it is contradicted by the morphological evidence. And by hook
or by crook they (or the molecular theorists) are going to find an
'explanation' (excuse) to explain away the morphological anomaly. The
idea that bean counting of DNA bases is the essence of phylogeny is now
so entrenched that I doubt anyone who has walked out on this plank will
be able to back away (especially if they have claimed that the
chimpanzee theory is fact). Of course I have walked out on an even
longer plank against popular opinion. But then only a few decades back
panbiogeography was ridiculed out of hand, and while it is now just
generally ignored (standard scientific procedure by the majority - one
technique that should be taught to students in science classes so they
can recognize it in themselves or others), one can no longer get away
with ridicule.

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: Thursday, June 25, 2009 10:18 PM
To: taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu
Subject: [Taxacom] Pongidae (was: orangutan outrage)

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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