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Re: Some thoughts on cladistics

In a message dated Thu, 1 Nov 2001  4:51:52 AM Eastern Standard Time, Martin 
Baeker <martin@raptor.ifw.ing.tu-bs.de> writes:

> I would like to add some thoughts on the recent cladistics/PT/Linne
> debate.
> To me, the situation is the following:
> When discussing evolutionary processes and questions of who is related to
> whom and in what way, it seems quite clear to me that introducing ranks or
> grouping animals on their appearance is not appropriate and, in fact, not
> scientific. 
> So does this mean that ranks or paraphyletic groups should never be used?
> I do not think so.

You've brought us back to the question of what exactly ought to be the basis of 
our classification systems.  It seems to me that propinquity of descent is a 
reasonably objective criterion (at least in theory; actually *determining* 
relative propinquity is a whole other can of worms), and that if we are going 
to use common descent, we might as well *use* common descent, and actually 
classify organisms with their closest relatives to the exclusion of all others.

Otherwise, why not classify whales as fish and bats as birds?  Phylogeny is a 
good, robust standard.  Let's stick to it.

--Nick P.