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Morphometrics and Phylogenetic Analysis



Message text written by INTERNET:Chapman.Ralph@NMNH.SI.EDU
>Anyway, morphometrics should be the best friend of the cladist. That
it very frequently isn't, and at times is avoided at all costs by
some, does not speak well for much of that work. If we are to evolve
towards quantification, we must be as good at defining characters as
we are at the philosophy and algorithms we use to do phylogenetic
analyses that generate the trees we are so fond of.<

        Never having done any formal morphometric analysis of anything
(that is, using a program such as RFTRA -- I've been forced to just eyeball
it!), I put forth that part of the reticence of many cladists to use "hard"
morphometrics is a lack of desire to learn a new program using (possibly)
new equipment.  Time and money may also factor in -- how much money is
involved in setting up a good morphometer?  (Is "morphometer" even a word?)
 Lastly, given the amount of detail in many of your (Ralph's) papers, I
would suspect it takes a fair amount of time to perform such an
analysis...and in today's world of battling cladograms, the need to speed
to publish before others do is probably another factor in the lack of hard
morphometrics in many analyses.

        So Ralph -- is it possible for me to set up a good morphometer with
my desktop or laptop computer, or do I need something the size (and cost?)
of a typical SEM machine?  (I hope not!)  Also, is a suitable
program/equipment portable?  It's frequently difficult to get housing
institutions to send specimens, and is easier to take the equipment to the
specimen and gather the data there...

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                     Jerry D. Harris
                 Fossil Preparation Lab
          New Mexico Museum of Natural History
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