[Taxacom] Forgotting at the edge of miracles

Dr. Antonio Lopez cycas at mnhnc.inf.cu
Thu Apr 23 13:24:32 CDT 2015


Thank you for the article of Head. Only when I read everything I am able to understand and to reason. I never understood that supposed difference between dispersalism and vicariancism as different schools. For me living in an oceanic island, both processes go together and they are extremely important. All the species arrived for dispersal. Then, in a place where two species of age’s different cohabit. One arrived 50 million years ago and the other one only a million years ago. The lineage don’t has common history.

Then a marine transgression converted in two a single territory. Appear two new species, in the new territory. Then it retire the waters and the four species meet. These species occupy, by adaptive radiation, the new territories free of life after the waters retire. Remember that the theory of Island don’t work when migration tend to zero and extinction to infinite. Problem of majority of oceanic island in the world.

Then which biogeography school has the reason?



Dr. Antonio López Almirall

Conservador del Herbario 

Museo Nacional de Historia Natural

Obispo 61, Plaza de Armas

Habana Vieja 10100, La Habana 


Email cycas at mnhnc.inf.cu


De: John Grehan [mailto:calabar.john at gmail.com] 
Enviado el: martes, 21 de abril de 2015 04:13 p. m.
Para: taxacom; Portal; Hamish Patrick; Brian Patrick
Asunto: Forgotting at the edge of miracles


Politicians often don't mince words and their language can be abrupt and abrasive. This is all too often true in science as well, although it is often more active below the surface of dialogue. In this respect Heads' observations in the miracles article are, in my opinion, quite restrained when he notes the following:

 "De Queiroz (p. 277) wrote that ‘When I asked Steve Trewick why the panbiogeographers, once prominent in New Zealand, had been ‘exiled’,’ he replied, ‘They were seen for what they are, a group of fundamentalists who have refused to engage with other thinkers or other evidence.’.


To me this is pretty serious stuff, when the respectability of professional colleagues is so openly denigrated this way. If it were true perhaps one could say that it is justified nevertheless. So is it justified because it is true? Not so, as Heads continues:

In fact, the panbiogeographers were

exiled, not for failing to engage with the establishment, but for engaging with it and disagreeing with it. Panbiogeographers have always engaged with other biogeographers, including Trewick himself (Heads and Craw 2004)."


This rebuttal is, in my opinion, quite restrained since one must wonder if Trewick somehow had such a severe memory lapse, or was his omission deliberate? It is pretty obvious that the omissions by Mayr and others were deliberate, and in the case of Mayr, it resulted in him making assertions based on an apparent ignorance (of panbiogeography) that he did not have. Stephen Jay Gould is another classic example of someone who had read Croizat's major work and yet seemed to take great pains to avoid the subject while digging up all manner of other minutiae.


But with Trewick's forgetfulness also comes with its ironic accompaniment - that the failure to engage is not from panbiogeographers at all, as noted by Heads:

"In contrast, dispersalists have often failed to engage with panbiogeography. For example, although de Queiroz himself cited many papers published in 2013, he did not mention my 2012

book (Heads 2012b). Thus, he cited Goswami and Upchurch’s (2010) ‘rebuttal’ of my ideas on fossil age v. clade age (p. 322), but not my response (Heads 2012b, p. 132). Likewise, he cited Ali and Huber’s (2010) suggestion that ocean currents explain dispersal to Madagascar (p. 248), but did not mention my critique of their paper (Heads 2012b, p. 117)."


So is this is the world of 'miracles' - seemingly one where myths prevail to the point of creating an artificial memory that fails to correspond with reality. Is the forgetfulness and consequence of the myths, or do the myths drive the forgetting?


John Grehan

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