[Taxacom] Neanderthals a species?

Richard Pyle deepreef at bishopmuseum.org
Sat Jul 3 18:24:50 CDT 2010

Hi Ken,

Thanks for the clarification.  I don't disagree with anything you say.  The
key word in my question was "fundamentally", and I was most interested in
your all-caps "RATHER", so you have addressed both, and we seem to be in
agreement (on both).


> -----Original Message-----
> From: taxacom-bounces at mailman.nhm.ku.edu 
> [mailto:taxacom-bounces at mailman.nhm.ku.edu] On Behalf Of 
> Kenneth Kinman
> Sent: Saturday, July 03, 2010 8:11 AM
> To: taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu
> Subject: Re: [Taxacom] Neanderthals a species?
> 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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