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Re: Evolution programs (was: Reevolving bones)



At 03:25 AM 5/7/97 -0400, you wrote:
>In a message dated 97-05-07 01:51:30 EDT, dalmiro@mesopy.obspm.fr (Maia)
>writes:
>
><< A thing like Dinogeorge suggests is feasible, the big problem 
> is probably the CPU time. Of course you would try something 
> which is not a dinosaur but just a set of characters that could 
> be used in a cladogram... Given my background in Physics I would 
> have no problem in calling that set of characters a "dinosaur 
> model" just to stay on topic in this list. >>
>
>This is exactly what I had in mind. Have the evolution program generate an
>"ecosystem" of virtual dinosaurs, hand the dinosaurs over to the
>systematists, then see whether the trees the systematists come up with match
>the trees that the computers constructed when they generated the virtual
>dinosaurs. Even more interesting: Set the parameters of the programs to
>generate trees with no reversals, lots of reversals, no homoplasies, lots of
>homoplasies, strict parsimony, no parsimony, and so forth, and see whether
>the methodology can consistently pick them out. Or see just what it does do
>with such trees. This could go any number of ways...
>
Okay, let's see it.

This would be an excellent experiment, and could easily get the team that
runs it several papers (a short one in Science or Nature, a longer one in
Systematic Biology or similar journal).

But, why dinosaurs?  Why not (for example) muppets or other imaginary taxon?

The results should be interesting. And, given the fact that no one has done
this yet (to my knowledge), we have no way of knowing a priori the results
of such an experiment.

Any takers?  People working on a comp sci masters: this is prime thesis
material!

Thomas R. Holtz, Jr.
Vertebrate Paleontologist     Webpage: http://www.geol.umd.edu
Dept. of Geology              Email:th81@umail.umd.edu
University of Maryland        Phone:301-405-4084
College Park, MD  20742       Fax:  301-314-9661