[Taxacom] Reptilia (and Hominidae)

John Grehan jgrehan at sciencebuff.org
Mon Mar 16 11:00:10 CDT 2009

The scope of Hominidae is entirely arbitrary. There is no objective
criterion. I would also favor Hominidae for humans and all fossil
relatives more closely related to humans than the nearest living great
ape largely as a matter of simplicity in view of the effervescent nature
of hominoid phylogenetics with respect to fossil taxa. Although the
human-great ape expansion of Hominidae has become perhaps universally
excepted among hominoid systematist the subfamily grouping for humans
(Homininae) is now defined specifically in relation to the chimpanzee
which means if one uses Homininae it is assumed this denotes a
relationship with chimpanzees. And in this context reference to hominid
is no longer just the close fossil relatives, but all great apes as

But of course I do not support Pongidae for a paraphyletic great ape
group. I support Pongidae for orangutans and Panidae for African apes.

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: Monday, March 16, 2009 11:46 AM
> To: taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu
> Subject: [Taxacom] Reptilia (and Hominidae)
> Curtis Clark wrote:
> Some folks used to say "Humans are mammal descendants" rather than
> "Humans are mammals". There was once a fashion of placing humans in a
> separate *Kingdom* from other animals.
> ***************************************************
> Dear All,
>       I don't think I have ever heard any educated person ever say
> humans are mammal descendants (although I'm sure Jay Leno could
> find someone on the street that would).  Humans have been classified
> mammals since the time of Linneaus.  And one guy did propose a Kingdom
> Psychozoa for humans, but I'm pretty sure that was just a joke (it was
> hardly a "fashion").
>        However, I do advocate keeping Family Hominidae for humans and
> Family Pongidae (truncated clade) for the great apes.  Sure, we could
> argue over whether "humans are great apes" or "humans are descendants
> great apes", but that would be just semantic hair-splitting.  And now
> dumping chimps, or chimps and gorillas (or chimps, gorillas and
> orangutans) into Family Hominidae just makes Family Hominidae
> meaningless unless you specify which cladist you are following, and a
> lot of biologists don't like it (not to mention millions of lay people
> out there who don't want humans classified in the same family as
> and gorillas, so why go out of your way to piss off all those people
> well).  During most of the 20th Century, all biologists knew what was
> meant by Family Pongidae (great apes) and Family Hominidae (humans).
> Then Hennig's "cladifications" came along, and paraphylophobia
> unfortunately became increasingly "fashionable".  Classifications have
> become increasingly unstable ever since.
>                --------Ken Kinman
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