[Taxacom] What taxon corresponds to "birds'?
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
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