[Taxacom] Usefulness vs convenience (Protista)

Stephen Thorpe stephen_thorpe at yahoo.co.nz
Tue Dec 21 14:04:53 CST 2010

written with all the clarity we have come to expect from Richard! :)

From: Richard Zander <Richard.Zander at mobot.org>
To: Kenneth Kinman <kennethkinman at webtv.net>; taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu
Sent: Wed, 22 December, 2010 8:23:58 AM
Subject: Re: [Taxacom] Usefulness vs convenience (Protista)

Okay, Ken: By mish-mash I meant that, because nobody involved in the present 
discussion is a pure ideologue, we mix phylogeny-speak with evolution-speak. In 
one sentence one of us may say "((ab)c)" and in the next "b is a peripatric 
puppy". It is totally true that phylogenetic clustering is valuable information, 
but the apple vs orange occurs when the interpretation of the cluster nesting 
ENDS in classification versus when the interpretation of a theory from the 
cluster (when one is available, which it often is) ends in classification. We 
use the highly supported cluster pattern when it is important to emphasize the 
high support, rocket science, and sneak in theory when no phylogeneticist higher 
on the social scale is looking.

* * * * * * * * * * * * 
Richard H. Zander 
Missouri Botanical Garden, PO Box 299, St. Louis, MO 63166-0299 USA 
Web sites: http://www.mobot.org/plantscience/resbot/ and 
Modern Evolutionary Systematics Web site: 

-----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, December 20, 2010 9:35 PM
To: taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu
Subject: Re: [Taxacom] Usefulness vs convenience (Protista)

Hi Richard,
        You seem to be saying that my classifications (like the one for Kingdom 
Protista) are like a "mish-mash of apples and oranges", and if so, could you 
clarify what you mean by mish-mash? Using words more precise than mish-mash, how 
would you characterize such eclectic classifications.   Unnatural? or Natural 
(but arbitrary)?, or some other combination of adjectives?          

    As for a paraphyletic group being merely a synchronic (present-day) view, 
and I'm not sure I would totally agree with that, I don't think this is that big 
of a problem (especially for higher ranked paraphyletic taxa). The 5 
generally-recognized Kingdoms of life were well-established and fairly 
well-diversified by the beginning of the Carboniferous, so if I were living then 
instead of now, I would have still recognized a paraphyletic Kingdom Protista 
with three exgroup Kingdoms. The youngest Kingdom (Metaphyta) would have been 
less diverse than today (since angiosperms hadn't evolved), but it would have 
still been diverse enough to merit 3 phyla (Bryophyta, Pteridophyta, and 
Spermatophyta), and the fourth Phylum Magnoliophyta (angiosperms) would have 
been rather diverse by the Cretaceous. 

      And Classes Mammalia and Aves were already fairly diverse by the end of 
the Cretaceous, so a paraphyletic Reptilia was already justifiable by that 
point. Of course, much of the diversity of Mammalia and Aves at that time has 
not yet been found in the fossil record, and much of that diversity was wiped 
out by the end-Cretaceous extinction, with the surviving taxa reradiating into 
new taxa in the Paleocene and Eocene. Aves is younger than Mammalia, but still 
had a lot of enantiornithean-type diversity in the Cretaceous (which then went 
extinct, and replaced by a radiation of the neornithine survivors in Paleocene 
and Eocene). 

        So I don't think one is being merely synchronic (present-day view only) 
if the exgroups to Kingdom Protista were diverse by the beginning of the 
Carboniferous and the exgroups to Class Reptilia were diverse by the 
Cretaceous.  Or perhaps I am misinterpreting what you meant that paraphyletic 
taxa are synchronic (present-day only)? 



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