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Re: The iguanodont paper



> I'm not debating that some paraphyletic groups are
> interesting. But
> most paraphyletic groups are just clades with one or
> more random
> subclades removed -- that's not interesting or
> useful.

I would go as far as to say that from the point of
evolutionary ecology, *most* paraphyletic groups are
interesting. Phylogeny is not really important there,
just as for a hawk it's not really important what its
prey is related to, only that it has the right size.

Phylogenetic information cannot be entirely dismissed
in almost all cases, and in some it does provide
fascinating insight. For example the ability to deal
with (break down and/or sequester) Fabaceae toxins is
autapomorphic in Lepidoptera and has evolved quite
often (at species-level resolution). But among
Noctuidae (the largest family among the butterfly and
"true" moth clade Macrolepidoptera IIRC) it seems a
plesiomorphy.

A nice way to explain the problem of nonmonophyletic
taxa to laypeople by reductio ad absurdum: consider a
taxon "Caerulommatanimalia" - "animals with blue
eyes". Kudos to Stefan Obenauer at Cologne Zoo for
that one.

There is also some apocryphal Medieval Chinese(?)
classification with hilarious taxa - I think some
Spanish or French writer/philosopher lists it. If you
have ever seen it, you ought to know what I mean. Does
anyone have the details?

Regards,

Eike


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