The Node Pointing System

Greg Rouse gregr at
Wed Oct 25 04:25:34 EST 2000

I am afraid that there are several misconception's in Jim's message.

There is absolutely no requirement to name all nodes. I don't know 
anybody involved in the creation of Phylogenetic Nomenclature, or its 
codification, who has ever, anywhere, written such a thing. The quote 
Nixon and Carpenter use to bolster their claim that the PhyloCode will 
implement naming all nodes is a gross misrepresentation. Also, the use of 
the simplistic notion 'NP' for node pointing as a defining phylogenetic 
taxonomy is a travesty. There will be stem-based, node-based and 
apomorphy-based definitions possible under the PhyloCode. Nixon and 
Carpenter's argument cannot stand up if they recognize that apomorphy-
based definitions of names will be a part of the new system, so they 
ignore it.  

As for chaos and lack of stability, in my opinion phylogenetic taxonomy 
will be more stable and have less chaos than the present Linnean 
taxonomic nightmare we have to endure. Phylogenetic Nomenclature is 
more rigorous, more explicit and less ambiguous that the current system. 
It will make people think about what they are doing when they name taxa, 
instead of the current atheoretical, subjective hotchpotch of rules.  

For those interested in a clear presentation of the forthcoming 
PhyloCode go to the website:

Also, see the Taxacom archives where Phil Cantino has addressed many 
of the criticisms and misunderstandings.

[ is the current archive host 
site - GBR]

The paper by Nixon and Carpenter is an interesting one and is 
definitely worth reading. It is fascinating how people who use 
'tree-thinking' insist on supporting a taxonomic system that is so 
incompatible with it.

Greg Rouse
School of Biological Sciences A08
University of Sydney
N.S.W. 2006

gregr at
Tel.     (02) 9351 5571
Fax     (02) 9351 4119
International: 61 2 replaces 02

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