[Taxacom] SUSPECT: Re: Pongidae (was: orangutan outrage)

John Grehan jgrehan at sciencebuff.org
Sun Jun 28 13:27:10 CDT 2009

All of these points show why molecular evidence is not a self evident
truth that necessarily negates morphological evidence, which in itself
is a construction of molecular interactions that are consistently
inherited under a consistent spatiotemporal environment. I would like to
emphasize that I have no necessary position of which is better in
phylogenetic construction - morphology or molecules. I do have a
necessary position on the widespread assumption that a consistent
molecular result falsifies a morphological alternative and my position
is that this assumption is not been demonstrated. On the other hand I
consider morphology as a potential falsifier of molecular based


John Grehan




From: Richard Zander [mailto:Richard.Zander at mobot.org] 
Sent: Saturday, June 27, 2009 2:31 PM
To: John Grehan; taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu
Subject: RE: SUSPECT: Re: [Taxacom] Pongidae (was: orangutan outrage)


Bravo, John. Good response. 


Much information about past selection of expressed traits or fixation of
drifting traits will be there in the genome. Getting it out is the
problem. Much history is overwritten in DNA. Slow-mutating sequences
miss stuff. Extinct lineages have taken much with them into eraserhood. 


If we could identify proteomically developmental genes generating
different expressed traits associated with selection in nature then
match them with history accumulated by non-coding sequences, wouldn't
that be nice? I think much is expected from QTL studies in this regard. 


I think a feature of misunderstanding on Taxacom are the different ideas
different people have about exactly what it is that is evolving. A
species? A population? An organism? A trait? An enzyme? A codon? Is ANY
change the same as evolution, or is evolution associated with change and
the fixation of certain expressed traits in a species that is then
stable over long periods of time through maybe stabilizing selection
(which is my take on it)? Should we vote? Or is this even more
embarassing than our lack of agreement on something so basic? Look it up
in the dictionary?


BTW, strong expressions are stimulating, instructive, and worthwhile on
Taxacom. I would hate to see anyone blackballed from this listserver for
occasionally being robustly annoying. Truth is not necessarily captured
by tippytoeing up behind it.



Richard H. Zander

Missouri Botanical Garden

PO Box 299

St. Louis, MO 63166 U.S.A.

richard.zander at mobot.org




From: taxacom-bounces at mailman.nhm.ku.edu on behalf of John Grehan
Sent: Sat 6/27/2009 11:42 AM
To: taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu
Subject: SUSPECT: Re: [Taxacom] Pongidae (was: orangutan outrage)


Thank you for taking the trouble to present in simple, first principles,
your view of the situation. This is highly commendable. Naturally I have
a counterpoint.

First on heritable information. There has been quite a bit of debate
over the nature of 'information' and its 'expression' (which implies
preformationism). But going along with your argument I would say that I
understand your statement and for the purposes of the phylogenetic
hypothesis I have no need to contest it.

Regarding the statement that "there is more information" in the genome
than macromorphology - again that depends on the nature of information.
But for my systematics evidence on the orangutan I have argued a
cladistic application whereby the pertinent information is confined to
those features that are unique, or nearly so, to the in-group that can
be individually evaluated before analysis of competing evidence for
relationships within the in group. In the absence of empirical evidence
for base replacement this becomes problematic in molecular sequence
analyses. Some admit this, but then argue the law of large numbers.

As for "Therefore, all information available from morphology is
THEORETICALLY available in the genome" I have no problem with that. The
problem is identifying the morphological apomorphies in the DNA bases.

Regarding" We all have our opinions on the techniques available at this
time, and they are getting better all the time" don't confuse better
techniques with better concepts. Better techniques applied to erroneous
concepts = no improvement at all. One sees this in molecular clock

"We all have our opinions on the techniques available at this time, and
they are getting better all the time" - I already said this.

"So, please stop trying to debate the ridiculous" - I guess you are
right -the molecular claims of immunity from falsification by morphology
are ridiculous. But sometimes they need to be debated nevertheless as
not all take this viewpoint.

"And, just to set the record straight, I and many others still ridicule
panbiogeography at every opportunity" Good for you. Confidence in your
position is commendable. I would be interested to know how you explain
away the success in panbiogeography of making novel geological

"Lastly, I am amazed anyone cares about these 6 taxa" I'm kind of amazed
too. If this were about some obscure ghost moths, for example, no one
would give a damn. On the other hand, the hominid question forces issues
into the open that are otherwise too easily ignored.

Thanks for the vote of confidence. You can return to your cave now.

John Grehan

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