[Taxacom] Phylogenetic game

Kenneth Kinman kennethkinman at webtv.net
Mon Dec 13 11:00:33 CST 2010

Hi John, 
        Strict cladists are strict in the sense that
they do not allow the formal naming of paraphyetic taxa. On the other
hand, I don't know of anyone who is a strict paraphyleticist (and did
not allow the formal naming of clades). 
       My own approach is to cladify as much as possible
and thus keep paraphyly to a minimum (but still retaining them where
they add important information and avoid unnecessary instability).  Thus
I regard myself as a cladist, but not a strict one.  I love clades, but
not clades only.       
      What REALLY irks me are attempts to cladify classifications long
before there is adequate information to do so. This happened to
bacterial classifications when Woese decided (based on very limited
sequence information) that his "Archaebacteria" (later "Archaea") were
older than Eubacteria. Over 30 years later, this misconception still
persists. Metabacteria is a much better name, but unfortunately the
Japanese workers who proposed it in 1979 (or 1980?) didn't have the
influence of Woese.   
       Even today we still don't have enough information to reliably
cladify the higher classification of prokaryotes.  And even if we did,
it should still be treated at the highest level as a paraphyletic taxon
(Kingdom, Superregnum, or Empire; take your pick) giving rise to the
exgroup Eukaryota (a clade).  For a more eloquent discussion, see Ernst
Mayr's paper ("Two Empires or Three" in Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci.).  
           ---------Ken Kinman                          

John Grehan wrote: 
          I guess one might label paraphyleticists
as strict,something, (traditionalists?) as well. I'm not sure I can see
how anyone labeled as a cladist is also a supporter of paraphyly as I
thought the two were operationally incongruent. 

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