Oligochaeta molecular phylogeny

Kirk Fitzhugh fitzhugh at rcf-fs.usc.edu
Wed Jun 14 18:53:25 EST 2000


At 12:09 AM 06/15/2000 +0100, you wrote:
>Martin, P., I. Kaygorodova, D. Y. Sherbakov, & E. Verheyen. 2000. 
>Rapidly evolving lineages impede the resolution of phylogenetic 
>relationships among Clitellata (Annelida). -- Molecular Phylogenetics and 
>Evolution 15(3):355-368.

I've always been fascinated how our molecular-oriented colleagues have 
the ability to judge rates of evolution from temporally neutral data, 
especially when the hypotheses of rate are based on the very data the 
hypotheses are intended to explain! It is sort of like looking at a plane crash 
and claiming to know from the wreckage the rate of descent prior to the 
plane hitting the ground. One would in effect have to "know" a priori 
phylogenetic history in order to claim some set of data to be "unreliable" or 
rate heterogeneous. But then, if you "know" rates then you are also 
obligated to either accept that the very basis for our perceptions is 
spurious, thereby precluding the inference of cladograms altogether, or 
else rename those observations "known" to be derived from separate 
histories.  

Just thinking out loud... :-)

Kirk

"To become a standard authority is, sooner or later, to become an obstacle
to knowledge."

D.R. Dudley, The Civilization of Rome

------------------------------------------  
Kirk Fitzhugh, Ph.D.
Associate Curator of Polychaetes
Research & Collections Branch
Los Angeles County Museum of Natural History
900 Exposition Blvd
Los Angeles CA 90007
Phone:   213-763-3233
FAX:     213-746-2999
e-mail:  fitzhugh at bcf.usc.edu
------------------------------------------


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