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Cladistics



In an earlier post, I suggested that morphology studies may have occasional
limitations in their ability to correctly determine the relationships of
animals.

I had read that scientists were surprised when DNA sequence data showed
elephants to be related to golden moles through a common ancestor (an
ancestor which also gave rise to hyraxes, sirenians, aardvarks, and
elephant shrews).

Yes, I know that comparative anatomy studies had correctly predicted
several of the elephant relatives (hyraxes, for example), but according to
the article I had read, the elephants' relationships to golden moles was
most unexpected.  In paleontology, with less morphological data available
for each animal, some of the expected phylogenetic relationships may not be
entirely correct. 

Again, I think that cladistic analysis is the best "sorting" tool currently
available to paleontology, but I would expect that some of the presently
accepted cladograms may err in some particulars.

Would someone please correct me if the golden mole had been considered a
member of the elephant family all along?

Ralph Miller III <gbabcock@best.com>