[Taxacom] Neanderthals a species?

Kenneth Kinman kennethkinman at webtv.net
Sat Jul 3 13:10:30 CDT 2010


Hi Rich, 
       Yes, I tend to disparage (or otherwise discourage)
excessive splitting at the species level, so that was the reason for
"RATHER" in all-caps. I would say that subspeciation and speciation are
different, but not necessarily "fundamentally" different. I guess it
might  depend on the taxon involved. Polyploid speciation (common in
plants) happens so quickly that the subspeciation step is totally
skipped. When the subspeciation event is a small founder population
(even as small as a single pregnant female), it speeds down the road to
speciation relatively quickly (but not instanteously as in polyploidy).
Then there are the generally slower forms of subspeciation that involve
larger populations diverging from one another. So there is certainly a
vast continuum of different rates at which speciation occurs.    
      Except for the possible exception of polyploidy (where one could
perhaps argue that subspeciation and speciation are merged into a single
step), I would say that subspeciation and speciation are different, but
I would be reluctant to say "fundamentally" different. One could open a
semantic can of worms over a word like that, but subspeciation is
certainly a far more common and easy step for a population to take (but
I guess that wouldn't count as a  "fundamental" difference).  Anyway, I
obviously do not think that Neanderthals made the difficult step of
speciation.  They just got swamped by waves of the more "modern"
subspecies.      
             -----Cheers,
                       Ken        
---------------------------------------------- 
Richard Pyle wrote:
Ken, 
I wonder if you could clarify something. You wrote:       
        These examples show how too many biologists
still fail to recognize just how difficult speciation actually is and
too often jump to the conclusion that differences (morphological,
genetic, or even behavioral) indicate speciation RATHER than
subspeciation.
     It sounds (by use of the all-caps "RATHER") that you see the
process of speciation being fundamentally different from the process of
subspeciation. Is that an accurate interpretation of your views? Or, do
you see speciation and subspeciation as different (perhaps overlapping)
regions along a continuum of processes of isolation and divergence that
exist among extant populations? (If you only emphasized "RATHER" as a
way of disparaging excessive splitting at the species level -- then we
are of like-mind on this point.) 
Aloha,
Rich 





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