[Taxacom] Drosophila melanogaster name change?

Kim van der Linde kim at kimvdlinde.com
Fri Apr 9 22:40:14 CDT 2010


On 4/9/2010 4:51 PM, Richard Zander wrote:
> No howling in this case. I was typing up a delightful rant on the
> subject of fruit fly nomenclature when I decided that a really good
> failure on the part of phylogeneticists to serve other sciences was JUST
> WHAT WE NEED. So I quit with a smile . . . This case is up there with
> the possibility that future science will deal with having no scientific
> names for good taxa like polar bears, the cactus family, and birds.

Would you believe that I am not against paraphyletic clades? Probably 
not. But I do not have a problem with it. The reasons I do have a 
problem with this case are the following:

1. The genus is not a little paraphyletic, but includes at least 12 
(twelve) other genera (See here: 

2. The genus as currently defined is highly heterogeneous.

3. Many clades are morphologically more alike the included genera than 
to the other clades within the same genus. This is especially striking 
between the subgenus Sophophora and the remainder of the genus.

4. The most recent common ancestor of the genus Drosophila is about 63 
million years old. Compare that to the most common ancestor of the 
Hawaiian 'drosophila' and Scaptomyza, which is only 30 million years 
old. Similarly with other genera within and outside the genus Drosophila.

The larger age difference and some degree of paraphyly are not an issue, 
but only if the resulting clades are homogeneous and the excluded clade 
is obviously different. That is not happening in Drosophila. The clades 
are often morphologically more similar to the closest included genus, 
and the genus by itself is highly heterogeneous, to the point that there 
is not a single synapomorphy that holds the genus together.



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