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Re: Martin 2004 critique (somewhat lengthy)
On Wed, 1 Jun 2005 09:33:51 +0200 (CEST) Martin Baeker
> Cladistic definitions are only useful if they
> agree at least broadly with common perception. (If hominidae has not
> cladistically defined - just to cook up an even more stupid example
I don't think that my example was "stupid". It is a fact that
"Dinosauria" was defined to include birds. It is also well known that
Martin largely ignores this fact. That was my point.
> could cladistically define it as everything closer to rattus
> than to megalosaurus, or whatever. Noone would use this definition,
> as it
> does not agree with any sensible concept of hominidae.)
Your point is irrelevent to this discussion.
The issue that *I* addressed is not whether any particular definition is
"sensible" or not, but whether certain authors are aware of even the most
WIDELY RECOGNIZED cladistic definitions. Surely, sir, you are not
proposing that Martin is justified in ignoring Padian and May's
> The issue at hand is whether birds are dinosaurs *phylogenetically*.
Indeed, that is the ultimate goal. And Martin fails there as well. His
skill at analysis of character traits is lacking, and when he *does*
quote other authors' analyses of character traits, those quotes are
usually outdated. Worse yet, other published character traits that tend
to refute Martin's beliefs are simply ignored by him.
> cannot be resolved by definition, if it could, it were not a
> question. Cladistics is meant to *reflect* the phylogeny,
No it is not. Cladistics "reflects" nothing of the sort. Cladistics
is only a method of *hypothesis testing* of *possible* phylogenies. The
true phylogeny is something that we will never know.
> but as the
> current understanding of phylogeny may not be correct, this does not
> that every cladistic definition is sensible, after all.
Who made that claim? Certainly no one who has posted in this particular
> (As an
> consider how clade names change depending on whether pterosaurs are
> or distant relatives of dinosaurs.)
Yeah, well..... you touched a nerve there.
IMHO, ideally the clade names should not change. Ideally, with the
discovery of new data, only the TAXA should drop out of (or are added to)
the clades. Clade definitions should reflect *stability* in
nomenclature. The dynamic part of cladistics is the movement of the taxa
within the tree. I loath clade re-definitions. They are usually only a
manefestation of the re-definer's personal ego, and they only serve to
create chaos in the scientific literature.
If pterosaurs ever enter the Dinosauria, I won't be offended at all. I
would welcome them into the clade. But if pterosaurs ever fall further
away from Dinosauria, then good for them.
> So please, don't confuse nomenclatural issues with scientific ones.
> are not scientific.
I beg to differ. In order to make your point, you are stretching to make
an unnecessary dichotomy. To the contrary, nomenclature is part of the
protocol of science, and in fact is the BASIS for scientific description.
Everything else in science is built upon a nomenclatural foundation.
And, ironically, you have made *my* point. How can Martin effectively
communicate with people like Sereno if Martin doesn't even use (or
respect) the same nomenclature as Sereno?