Subphylum Clitellata

Kirk Fitzhugh fitzhugh at
Fri Feb 21 16:23:41 EST 1997

This is in response to Alastair Grant's comment that, based on "molecular
work," clitellates belong "somewhere between a family and an 'order'."

Regardless of whether systematic research is based on molecules,
ultrastructure, morphology, what have you, the notion of some group
belonging kinda in an order or maybe kinda like a family is completely
irrelevant. The issue at hand is whether recognition of a monophyletic
"clitellata" of some rank can be justified relative to a monophyletic
Polychaeta. It makes no difference what the ranks are for these taxa
since this simply places taxa into a more inclusive hierarchy of
relationships. Let's worry more about discerning the patterns of
relationship and less about whether groups should be subphyla, classes, ad

At 08:44 AM 1/22/97 +0000, you wrote:
>>I see there is a school which elevates the clitellates to a subphylum 
>Based on molecular work, I would be more inclined to put Clitellata on a
>par with polychaete families, or at most somewhere between a family and an
>"order". Alastair Grant
>School of Environmental Sciences, University of East Anglia, Norwich, UK.
>Phone 01603 592537         Fax 01603 507719
>Email: A.Grant at           WWW:

Thanks for your time,

"...the process of evaluating a given hypothesis against reality is not
reasoning at all."

P.A. Flach

Dr. Kirk Fitzhugh, Associate Curator of Polychaetes
Invertebrate Zoology Section
Research & Collections Branch
Los Angeles County Museum of Natural History
900 Exposition Blvd
Los Angeles CA 90007

Phone:   213-744-3233
FAX:     213-746-2999
e-mail:  fitzhugh at

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