[Taxacom] Usefulness (was: Defining polyphyly)

Kenneth Kinman kennethkinman at webtv.net
Wed Dec 15 11:28:08 CST 2010

Hi Curtis,  
      You hit the nail right on the head again.  Paraphyletic groups are
just as natural as  holophyletic groups.  And "usefulness" is therefore
the more appropriate subject to debate.  I think Richard Zander's
arguments support the usefulness of paraphyletic taxa, not only in that
they include important information beyond mere sister group information,
but also by demonstrating how focusing too much on sister groups can
lead to false conclusions (which are definitely not useful).        
         Including both kinds of information in a classification is
therefore not only more useful in an informative sense, but they also
complement one another by helping to avoid false conclusions (which can
be very destabilizing to a classification).  You get more information
and less disinformation, two very useful qualities.       
              ----------Ken Kinman                    
Curtis Clark wrote:       
On 12/15/2010 5:09 AM, John Grehan wrote:  There's the hinge of it all -
whether paraphyletic groups are any more 'natural' than those that are
      A paraphyletic group can be specified by synapomorphies (a set for
the stem group and other sets for the exgroups), so it is as "natural"
as a monophyletic group. The question is rather, is it useful. And
that's where the disagreement seems to center. 
Curtis Clark              

More information about the Taxacom mailing list