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Re: pterosaurian monophyly



At 5:42 PM 9/20/95, Dinogeorge@aol.com wrote:
>And, by the way--which counts more? Morphological or molecular phylogenies
>(assuming they're in conflict, which they often are)?

        This is the big question, and, IMHO, is the big war coming in the
science of paleontology, and any self-respecting fossil-based, morphologic
paleontologist had best be on their guard against the grwoing contingent of
molecular phylogenetecists who tout the "100% objectivity" of their
perspective versus the "100% subjectivity" of ours as being the biggest
problem.  For example, I've heard from some incredibly heretical (and,
IMHO, 100% wrong!) conclusions, all based entirely on the genetic data (18s
gene, if I recall correctly), which is said to be infallible, in finding
sister-group relationships between, for example, mammals and dinosaurs (and
no, this is not Gardinier's stuff; it's by other people much more
recently).  Thus, they declare, any morphologic data which does not support
this position, despite the "entrenched" nature of these opinions over the
ages, are wrong, and based on subjective similarities (that is, those
viewed through the opiniated eyes of the paleontologist), is wrong.  It is
this growing contingent of molecular people who are going to be having we
morphologic paleontologists struggling to support our theories in the
_very_ near future!

        Now, I am in now way saying here that _all_ molecular
phylogeneticists are doing this -- just a subset within that profession.
But, as with Bakkerian dinosaurology, it's often the smaller subsets that
shout the loudest and end up (purposefully or not) end up causing the most
trouble...



Jerry D. Harris
Shuler Museum of Paleontology
Southern Methodist University
Box 750395
Dallas  TX  75275-0395
(214) 768-2750
FAX:  (214) 768-2701
jdharris@lust.isem.smu.edu
        (Compuserve:  73132,3372)

---------/O\------*     --->|:|:|>     w___/^^^\--o

"If it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, and
quacks like a duck, then it is the sister taxon to,
but cannot parsimoniously be, the direct ancestor
to all other ducks."

                                --  _not_ W. Hennig

---------/O\------*     --->|:|:|>     w___/^^^\--o