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Re: Re. Progress

<<Assuming you wish to steer clear of "plesiomorphic," "apomorphic,"
"autapomorphic [thanks!]," you could refer to "basal" and "derived"
characters or features.>>

If you're referring to a 'basal' character, wouldn't animals which are not
in the direct line have the same character?  If you're referring to a
'derived' character, aren't you excluding any increase in the effectiveness
of that character?  Think wings or feathers.  Natural selection may not have
'known where it was going' (Honored Person Chris Lavers), but it does
recognize improvements.
If 'basal' is applied to an animal, you'd have to say a basal something,
which re-introduces the idea of progress, a direct line leading to an
'ultimate' (final known or most effective known) expression.

Dinogeorge commented that "natural selection is in some sense progressive"
and added:
<<These terms [ "primitive," "advanced," and "progress"]may only be defined
relative to an evolutionary lineage and the characters that change within
that lineage, but that certainly doesn't make them useless or pejorative.>>
I'm wondering if in fact any diagram showing evolutionary relationships
through time does not demonstrate this type of progress?  Can't the
evolutionary lineage of birds be traced backward through time to a
(hypothetical) single species of dinosaur?  If you start at any most recent
species, it is theoretically possible to find a direct line going straight
back to the first living thing, no?  Reminds me of Pooh Bah (in The Mikado):
<<I am, in point of fact, a particularly haughty and exclusive person, of
pre-Adamite ancestral descent.  You will understand this when I tell you
that I can trace my ancestry back to a protoplasmal primordial atomic
globule.  Consequently, my family pride is something
inconceivable.  I can't help it.  I was born sneering.>>
It seems reasonable to speak of progress toward more effective use of an
adaptation in a specific lineage without imputing moral superiority to the

The difficulty with these words appears to be connotation.  Natural
selection itself was misused by social Darwinism, but continues in use with
a strictly stated meaning.  Why can't the same approach be followed with
'primitive', 'basal', 'advanced', and 'progress'?