[Taxacom] All levels of organisation and manifestation should be acknowledged for the classificatory and evolutionary value that is inherent in them

John Grehan calabar.john at gmail.com
Fri Nov 9 05:28:44 CST 2012

I concur with the sentiments below. While there are some interesting
 theoretical arguments about speciation involving paraphyly with respect to
how relationships are subsequently classified, it seems that in practice
there does not seem to be a meaningful argument for why a group should be
proposed that does not include one or more descendant taxa. Even in the
rather reactionary world of human-great ape systematics there has been a
shift from maintaining a great ape clade when it was recognized that some
great apes are more closely related to humans than other great apes. On the
other hand I agree with others on this list who have pointed out that all
relationships are provisional in one sense or another, and it is possible
to keep in mind more than one possible relationship at the same time.

John Grehan

On Fri, Nov 9, 2012 at 11:42 AM, Greg Davies <greg at ditsong.org.za> wrote:

> The reasons for the rejection of paraphyletic taxa were lucidly and
> explicitly outlined by Willi Hennig in his detailed response to Mayr
> (Hennig, 1975), in particular the assertion that paraphyletic taxa in
> classifications are more informative or useful (see particularly Hennig's
> point 6). In the 37 years since Hennig's evisceration of Mayr's arguments,
> there has been no logical or incisive riposte to Hennig's standpoint from
> those disagreeing, instead we get emotive and vague rhetoric (e.g.,
> "holophyly worship"; "paraphyly bashing").
> It is disappointing to see the low intellectual calibre of these "debates"
> on classification circulating on Taxacom. If you wish to be taken
> seriously,
> address the logic and theoretical basis to phylogenetic (cladistic)
> classification rather than dealing in bald assertions.
> ref:
> Hennig, W., 1975. Cladistic analysis or cladistic classification? a reply
> to
> Ernst Mayr. Systematic Zoology 24(2): 244-256.
> Greg Davies
> *************************************************
> G.B.P. Davies
> Curator of Birds
> Ditsong National Museum of Natural History
> (formerly Transvaal Museum)
> P.O. Box 413
> Pretoria
> South Africa
> 0001
> Tel: 012-000-0040
> Cell: 074-467-1635
> greg at ditsong.org.za
> Street address:
> Cnr Paul Kruger & Visagie Streets
> Pretoria
> Gauteng
> 25.45'11"S: 28.11'21.6"E
> **********************************************
> ----- Original Message -----
> From: "Ken Kinman" <kinman at hotmail.com>
> To: <nicholasa at ukzn.ac.za>; <richard.zander at mobot.org>;
> <taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu>
> Sent: Thursday, November 08, 2012 5:58 PM
> Subject: Re: [Taxacom] All levels of organisation and manifestation should
> be acknowledged for the classificatory and evolutionary value that is
> inherent in them
> >
> > Hi Ashley,
> >      Here, here.  Agree completely, and many others do too.  Not that our
> > heads would go on the chopping block, but our heads do get sore banging
> up
> > against that brick wall (of holophyly worship coupled with paraphyly
> > bashing).  You would think branding paraphyletic taxa with a "Scarlet
> > letter" P would satisfy them (Thomas Cavalier-Smith uses a * symbol, and
> I
> > use a % symbol for paraphyletic taxa).  But explicit marking of
> > paraphyletic taxa doesn't satisfy them, and they just want to destroy
> them
> > (not just bash them), no matter how informative and useful such taxa can
> > be.  Few of them seem willing to even discuss possible compromise of any
> > sort on this subject.
> >                     -------------Ken
> >
> >
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