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Re: Life Beyond the Cladogram



>        In this vein, I just submitted a paper on a new sphenosuchian
>which, during review, was implicated as making "too much of nothing" since
>the specimen is diagnostic both as a sphenosuchian and as a new taxon, but
>isn't well-enough preserved to be useful in any sphenosuchian phylogenetic
>analysis.  My co-authors and I submitted it regardless because we believe
>the specimen is useful in elucidating basal crocodylomorph evolutionary
>trends, diversity and paleoecology.  I would have been happy to have
>plugged the new taxon into extant data matrices for basal crocodylomorphs
>to see where it fell out (and if it, by some chance, straightened out the
>otherwise confusing and disagreeable state of basal croc systematics), but
>such wasn't possible.  Does that mean the paper shouldn't be published, in
>a day and age when more than half of the paleo papers published seem to
>require a cladogram?  I don't think so...I too agree that there are other
>equally interesting aspects of the study of fossils than just their
>relationships!

I'ld like to see it published! And I've come across similar problems with
papers I have wanted to get published. This is a problem of matching the
paper to the journal. From my experience, don't even think of submitting a
paper to JVP unless it has a cladogram. On the other hand Paleontology and
JP are less committed to having cladograms and many museum journals are
happy with any description provided it is competantly written. I have to
agree that there would seem to be plenty of scope for papers that are purely
descriptive without having a phylogenetic analysis, but some editors would
think otherwise.


Cheers,

Paul


Dr Paul M.A.Willis
Science Broadcaster and Palaeontological Consultant
(02) 9456 2930
pwillis@ozemail.com.au