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Re: Hippo-whale paper



On 27/1/05 10:29 am, "Tim Williams" <twilliams_alpha@hotmail.com> wrote:

> 
> One key feature of this paper: Boisserie et al. (2005) explicitly reject a
> close relationship between ruminants, hippos and whales.  A close
> relationship between ruminants and whales+hippos is the hallmark of several
> molecular-based phylogenies.  Instead, in this morphological study, the
> hippopotamids and nested within the anthracotheres, which are regarded as
> the sister group to the Cetacea (represented as Archaeoceti).  This
> whale+anthracothere/hippo clade is given as the sister group to the
> pig+peccary clade; the ruminants are excluded.
> 

What they don't do, unfortunately, is give us any indication of what the
level of difference is between the given tree and one that united hippos and
ruminants to the exclusion of suoids. There are no strongly bootstrapped
nodes between the two.

> Just be thankful that
> Boisserie et al. (2005) did not once mention the awful "Whippomorpha" for
> the whale-hippo clade.
>
    Is it worse than the alternative - the somewhat unimaginative
'Cetancodonta' (Cetacea + Ancodonta - wow)?
    I think that 'Cetacea' has some form of unfortunate mental hold on many
people. Probably the worst neologism connected with the position of Cetacea
is the renaming of 'Ferungulata' to 'Cetferungulata' used by some.
Fortunately, most researchers seem happy to simply extend 'Ferungulata' (or
'Fereuungulata') to include cetaceans.
    All this is, however, arguably preferable to the siuation in birds,
where (as a result of strict application of Linnean 'ranks') the same names
have been used repeatedly for sometimes wildly different groups of taxa.
Compare the various forms of 'Ciconiiformes' over the last twenty years or
so for an extreme example. At times a small, select group of storks and
their immediate family (with even herons turned away at the door), at other
times the name for a gigantic sprawling 'uber-clade' that encompasses ninety
percent of the 'water birds' from plovers to grebes to penguins, as well as
a few interested land-birds such as falcons.

    Cheers,

        Christopher Taylor