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In a message dated 12/3/02 10:41:58 AM Pacific Standard Time,
<< Therefore, there's no reason to sort characters
into "major" and "minor" based on an intuitive notion of it's importance in
The whole notion of what constitutes a "character" is utterly subjective,
which is one reason I consider cladistics as no better than any other method
of doing taxonomy and phylogenetics. For example, why is "neural spines
bifid" a character but "dorsal 1 neural spine bifid," "dorsal 2 neural spine
bifid," "dorsal 3 neural spine bifid," and so on, are not (yet, anyway)?
Our best chance at doing something approaching accurate/real taxonomy is to
consider character suites (whatever they might be), biostratigraphy,
biogeography, and anything else we can think of, and see how they stack up
against one another. That way we might be more able to catch the inevitable
errors that occur when these data are considered separately.