[Taxacom] What taxon corresponds to "birds'?

Richard Pyle deepreef at bishopmuseum.org
Tue Nov 29 17:16:49 CST 2016

> I have seem
> innumerable molecular phylogenies generating many branching points
> involving many taxa, but as long as the tree is presented I am not sure what
> you see to be so complicated or splintered. With respect to splintered are you
> saying some phylogenetic relationships should remain unresolved so the
> pattern is 'simple'?

I can't answer for Ken, but one point I have been making for many years is that if you want to represent inferred evolutionary relationships among organisms, then cladograms and similar branch-type diagrams are an extremely effective tool for communicating them.  I think the problem happens when people have tried to use a hierarchcal classification and nomenclatural system originally developed by a creationist (aka, Linnean nomenclature) as a system explicitly for communicating hypothesized inferred evolutionary relationships.  Such names and classifications have a history spanning more than two and a half centuries (a century before Darwin), and benefit to some degree on stability of usage over time.

Thus, let's use line drawings like cladograms to communicate our specific ideas about inferred evolutionary relationships, and leave the nomenclature to the function it has very effectively fulfilled for many years.  Clearly there is (and should be!) a very high degree of congruence between the two systems of communication.  But attempts to use the latter as a strict communication tool to represent the former often (usually?) serves neither goal effectively. Birds are a great example of this.


Richard L. Pyle, PhD
Database Coordinator for Natural Sciences | Associate Zoologist in Ichthyology | Dive Safety Officer
Department of Natural Sciences, Bishop Museum, 1525 Bernice St., Honolulu, HI 96817
Ph: (808)848-4115, Fax: (808)847-8252 email: deepreef at bishopmuseum.org

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