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JOKE IN CARROLL, CHEATING CHEETAHS....



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 Date: Thu, 29 Jun 1995 08:39:48 -0400
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 Subject: JOKE IN CARROLL, CHEATING CHEETAHS....
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 "Oh no! Not the palaeoclime/axis tilt argument!"

 Now some of you out there will have a copy of Carroll's 'Vert. Palaeo.'. Here
 in sunny so'ton, WE DON'T. So, if you have this volume to hand, could you
please
 do me a favour? On p.487 of said volume, there is supposed to be a joke. Pleas
e                                                     
 mail it, as I'd like to know what it is. Many thanks.....

 GENETIC VARIABILITY IN ACINONYX

 Cheetahs are cool! He he heh. O'Neil et al are probably right about the
 Pleistocene bottleneck that these animals endured, but if so, how can the
 variation amongst cheetahs be explained away? African (and probably what's lef
t
 of the Asian too) cheetahs are practically identical genetically, but there ar
e
 some odd ball populations; one in Egypt - these cheetahs have very very short
 fur, and are a browny colour (one was photoed last year); the 'woolly' cheetah
s
 from ?the Aberdares (thick coats, a profusion of tiny spots); and the
expanding-
 range King cheetah, a morph that some workers think is a special forest-adapte
d
 species-in-the-making. As regards the dino-link, cheetahs are especially
 interesting because, despite their morphological disparity to other felids,
they
 are in fact very close, recently evolved relatives of the other cats, being
 very close relatives of pumas (there are intermediate fossil species, and even
 a living, enigmatic cheetah-like puma-type morph called the onza). There's a
 lesson for phylogeny there, but of course one that, for purely fossil species,
 is invisible.

 The grey whale (_Eschrichtius robustus_) is another good example, seemingly
 being a very recently evolved, derived rorqual. Like the cheetah, its high
 degree of morphological disparity relative to other (living and fossil) specie
s
 has traditionally led to the conclusion that it has had a long, independent
 history. Now THAT'S  the lesson for phylogenetic inference of any clade's
 members: divergence of morphology/characters from other clade members DOES NOT
 equal divergence time. I'm sure dinosaurs underwent the same events....  So
does
 this all come down to the rate of evolution? Or could it be part of the case
for
 punctuated equilibrium?

 I'm off for a 12-day field trip to Yorkshire now. Staying in a tent at the bac
k
 of a pub. Don't know how I'll cook, as we have no kind of stove or anything.
 Guess I'll be living off crisps... well, hope my files don't fill up in my
 absence. Be good people! I leave you with that all-time classic Ozzie series,
 RTT:

 "We are going to RECREATE the forest. We photograph it, then we reconstruct it
 in the lobby of the casino, out of plastic trees, like this one.."   "What
about
 all the animals?"  "plastic animals"  "PLASTIC ANIMALS, yes, we'll have plasti
c                                                     
 animals for all the kiddies..."

 "You have your moments, not many of them, but you do have them" - TESB

 DARREN NAISH