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Re: The iguanodont paper

On Dec 8, 2007 4:30 PM, evelyn sobielski <koreke77@yahoo.de> wrote:
> I would go as far as to say that from the point of
> evolutionary ecology, *most* paraphyletic groups are
> interesting.

I guarantee that for every interesting paraphyletic group you can
think of, I can name a dozen uninteresting ones. Here's five for
- non-zorapteran bilaterians
- non-zorapteran, non-canine opisthokonts
- non-zorapteran, non-canine, non-testudine eumetazoans
- non-dinosaurian eukaryotes
- all eutherians except for Marilyn Monroe

> 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.

I disagree. Broccoli is the right size.
(Of course phylogeny isn't the only important factor here, but it is
*a* factor -- at least indirectly.)

> 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).

Wouldn't evolving quite often prevent it from being autapomorphic?

> 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?

Andreas Johansson posted the link. The writer, Jorge Luis Borges, was
Argentinian. Like much of the literature he wrote about, it is
completely (and amusingly) invented.

T. Michael Keesey
Director of Technology
Exopolis, Inc.
2894 Rowena Avenue Ste. B
Los Angeles, California 90039