[Taxacom] What taxon corresponds to "birds'?

Stephen Thorpe stephen_thorpe at yahoo.co.nz
Tue Nov 29 18:07:43 CST 2016

Yes, one major problem involves people trying to "formalize" every phylogenetic hypothesis into a classification! I'm really confused about one major and fundamental issue relating to phylogenies, which has considerable bearing on this issue. Are phylogenies merely hypotheses (to be tested, which is an ongoing process without a clear endpoint) or are they already the nearest things we can get to "facts"? If they are merely hypotheses, then it makes little or no sense to use them to alter classifications.

On Wed, 30/11/16, Richard Pyle <deepreef at bishopmuseum.org> wrote:

 Subject: Re: [Taxacom] What taxon corresponds to "birds'?
 To: "'John Grehan'" <calabar.john at gmail.com>, "'Kenneth Kinman'" <kinman at hotmail.com>
 Cc: taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu
 Received: Wednesday, 30 November, 2016, 12:16 PM
 > 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
 > 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
 (808)848-4115, Fax: (808)847-8252 email: deepreef at bishopmuseum.org
 Taxacom Mailing List
 Taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu
 The Taxacom Archive back to 1992 may be
 searched at: http://taxacom.markmail.org
 Injecting Intellectual
 Liquidity for 29 years.

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