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Re: Genetics and Morphology Collide

In a message dated 96-02-12 11:55:19 EST, nking.ucs@smtp.usi.edu (King, Norm)

>Let me get this straight:  apomorphies are observations--the physical 
>characteristics we think we see.  They are used to construct cladograms.  
>The cladogram branches at certain points, and the characters possessed in 
>common by the members of a branch are called synapomorphies--still an 

This is right on. Technically, an apomorphy is simply a derived character or
character state.

>But wouldn't it be an _interpretation_ that the observed synapomorphies 
>have phylogenetic significance?

Naturally. Other observers, with different cladograms, would arrive at
different lists of synapomorphies. Making an apomorphy a synapomorphy places
a phyletic interpretation on the character that is based on one's analysis.
When lots of observers come up with more or less the same lists of
synapomorphies via different analyses, then, maybe, we can speak with some
assurance about the _real_ synapomorphies in the phylogeny.