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Morphometrics and Phylogenetic Analysis

Ralph Chapman wrote:
> First, and this is an area I have been arguing for for more than 15
> years now, is the use of morphometrics for the better definition of
> characters as used classically in phylogenetic analyses. This should
> be a no brainer - actually having evidence for separating the
> character states used in an analysis rather than just eyeballing it
> and saying this character is subovate and this other one is ovate,
> etc. For an approach such as cladistics which claims to be very
> quantitative and not subjective, this should have been the first thing
> done, frankly, providing quantitative means for defending
> characters.Otherwise, we are stuck with just meristic characters (e.g.
> humber of belly bristles). However, and amazingly, lots of cladists
> will absolutely bristle at doing this - like you just threw cold water
> on them and ruined the game they are playing. Consequently, many
> cladistic analyses are really totally inadequate and, at times, pretty
> embarrassing that they go to so much trouble to analyse characters
> that are so wanting in support. I think we are making progress with
> many others, such as Tom, and the results will be far superior as a
> result. 

        Preach on, brother Chapman!

        Actually, I was involved in a discussion/debate with a colleague 
at the Ostrom talks who told me flat out that all of this morphometrics 
stuff wasn't going to get systematics anywhere.  Interesting that he had 
no alternative plan, though...

Josh Smith
University of Pennsylvania
Department of Earth and Environmental Science
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