Ciliate, taxonomy

Mark Siddall mes at
Sun Sep 17 01:32:54 EST 1995

In article <43a30t$m9r at> p.eigner at writes:
>Answer to Mark Siddall about Ciliate, taxonomy.
>On February 27 1995 I wrote a detailed note to Protista about the fascinating
>work on morphogenesis of the Hypotrichida (using only protargol impregnation,
>as I stated there expressis verbis), about work in progress and the many
>questions that arise. If you take time to read this note, you could spare
>your sensless aggressions, because then you would perhaps  know what you are
>talking about. I really would like to know the true reason for such

Okay... hang on... I did not contend that your contributions were not
fascinating.  Only that you only cited 3 papers that just happened to be
your own work. I will admit to the charge of aggressiveness, but I thought
your post to be entirely one-sided.

>unsubstantiated criticism.
>Where did I say divisional morphogenesis is infallible and all other
>evolutionary changes are uninteresting. What a stupid thing to say (it would
>be). I do not know exactly what you are doing, but I invite you to check my

What I am doing is trying to ask you to either substantiate your findings
by looking at other characters, or refute them by looking at other
The point being, that looking at the presence or absence of limbs alone cannot 
tell you how vertebrates evolved since snakes have lost them secondarily.
Why should ciliate morphogenesis be allowed to stand on it's own as
some kind of all meaningful attribute?

>findings with your methods. Since this is most likely not possible, I
>conclude, that everyone has to search with his own methods, and sometimes one
>great man (or woman) puts all findings together (I am sure it will be neither
>of the both of us). 

But what is preventing you frmo being a consummate scholar and taking
all of the data into account when considering phylogeny, not just your
own data?

>Even for a taxonomist it is difficult to keep record of all (suggested)
>changes, combinations and recombinations. My note is a help for everybody who

"Difficult" is not a reason for omission.

>needs to know about hypotrich taxonomy (and this newsgroup is mainly about
>ciliates), all changes in the three papers are put in an easy order and

miniscule fraction of non-metazoan non-metaphytan, non-mycotan, eukaryotic evolution.
If you want a group about ciliates only, or mostly, create one.  
This ciliate hegemony that goes on in protistan literature helps 
no one.  If you don't want to hear from a protistologist who does not deal
with ciliates, but who does deal with phylogeny, post elsewhere like's.a.ciliate.
Otherwise, be prepared that a helluva a lot of us do not give a
rat's keister about ciliates, though we do about rigorous science.

>additional taxonomic information is given. Most of the recent hypotrich
>taxonomy has come out of my Lab and next year I hope to write a similar note

Fine. I look forward to it.  In the meantime, I urge you to construct 
phylogenetic hypotheses using methods that have been around for over
20 years, if you want to write about phylogeny.
Otherwise, be prepared that a lot of us are going to balk at any suggestion
that you have a corroborated hypothesis.

>Considering that most of ciliate taxonomy is only based on descriptions of
>interphase morphology (which leads, as I have shown in my papers, to absurd
>families and genera), I think that the investigation in divisional

You may be correct, but I ask you what great devine insight allows you
to say "absurd"?  This is science, not metaphysics.  You or I would not]
know truth if it slapped us in the face!  No one has an overwhelming
lock on the "truth" cuz in science it is irrelevant.
The only relevance comes in corroboration.  Morphogenesis alone may
be nice, but without other characteristics... it is uncorroborated.
Period.  Just another idea.  Why not go out and look at other unrelated things 
and show us how these corroborate the morphogenesis data?
Really?  I mean it.  I will become one of your more avid supporters!!

>morphogenesis and its complicated processes is a great step forward to a
>natural system (even more dangerous is the people, who interprete wrongly
>their own incomplete and superficial attempt  to describe a divisional
>morphogenesis). You call morphogenesis just one character, but this depends
>on the point of view. Just apply now other  characters to my new family
>Kahliellidae (as you say is necessary) and lets see what comes out. Besides

Let's. Fine. 
But YOU are the one who have characterized it as such.

>all this, I have taken results with molecular markers into consideration;
>just  r e a d  my paper.
>What does your question mean about my CV. Or do you just want to discredit my
>name because I am an autodidakt and not a Professor as you probably are. 

I am not, and am probably hindering my chances at it by being so
contentious.  I am not trying to discredit you.  I am trying
to ask you to go beyond your own findings alone,
take all of the data into account andtry to either corroborate or
refute phylogenetic hypotheses on the basis of data rather than conviction or
mere opinion.
This is the stuff of science.
I apologise for the tone of my initial post but I do tire of asking
protistologists to do this!  The rest of the biological community has
been doing it for 20 yrs or more.
That's all.


>Your cool note may impress some young student, but not me. The first thing I
>learnd writing papers, was that all criticism must be founded. 

And I insist that mine is.  Here we agree. I simply said, show me a tree
with clear corroboration and refutation.

Mark E. Siddall                "I don't mind a parasite...
mes at                    I object to a cut-rate one" 
Virginia Inst. Marine Sci.                     - Rick
Gloucester Point, VA, 23062

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