The book from which the introductory chapter is reproduced above is a "what it is and how it works" description not a "how to do it" method.
I thought the "Introduction" worth reproducing here for its emphasis that what is important in biology is understanding "patterns of relationship rather than lines of ancestry" (even though Gee periodically slips into the evolution/ancestry mode). To understand and appreciate biology, it is critical to understand that all life is related on the cellular and molecular level - in that sense we are "all one creation" whether you believe in a Creator or not. As far as I am concerned I don't care if a Doctor "believes in evolution" as long as he or she thoroughly understands the biochemistry, physiology, anatomy and pharmacology that is first studied and described in animals and then refined in human clinical studies
From a book review by Anthony Campbell
"His main argument, which he makes repeatedly throughout the book, is that what might be called the family tree approach to palaeontology, in which fossils are arranged in a developmental sequence that purports to tell a story about how evolution occurred, is unscientific. Fossils are what they are; they don't come with a pedigree and it is impossible to say which are ancestral to which. Even though we may know that fossil A is older than fossil B, because it comes from a deeper geological layer, this does not negate the possibility that species B was really ancestral to species A. Alternatively, there may be no question of ancestry at all; the two organisms may simply have been cousins (all organisms on the planet are, ultimately, related to one another). Claims for developmental sequences are untestable and rest ultimately on the authority of the person who makes the claim, and this, according to Gee, is unscientific."
The author writes, as an example of a significant consequence of using cladistics to look at nature, "Historically, fish represent a group of equal status with reptiles and amphibians." But the - - "fishes do not form a natural group . . . the term 'fish' has no zoological meaning, as a category".
Before we can understand the history of life, we need to find the order in which we are all cousins, the topology or branching order of the tree of life. This can be done without having to make any prior assumptions about cause and effect, or ancestry and descent. These branching diagrams, which look , misleadingly like genealogies, are proper scientific hypotheses that can be tested by examining the strength or liklihood of alternative orders of branching--different orders of cousinhood--in the light of the anatomy of the organisms in whose relationship we are interested. As long ago as 1950, a German entomologist called Willi Hennig used these simple principles as a basis for a new way of looking at the living world. Hennig sought to understand creatures in terms of how they shared features with one another, independently of time, rather than in terms of their history of ancestry and descent. Hennig called his philosophy 'phylogenetic systematics', but it came to be known as 'cladistics' and its practitioners, inevitably, as 'cladists'. The branching diagrams cladists drew up to represent orders of cousinhood between organisms--patterns of relationship--became known as 'cladograms'.
How exactly does this differ from what Linnaeus did two centuries earlier?
posted on 06/09/2003 9:57:17 AM PDT
To: FairWitness; blam; Carry_Okie
ping and bump
posted on 06/09/2003 10:05:41 AM PDT
( Isaiah 55:10,11)
John McPhee, an eloquent writer on geology, coined the term 'Deep Time'
McPhee is a fine writer, and perhaps he deserves credit for coining this term. But it does remind me of J.R.R. Tolkien who (IIRC) reported that Elendil's sword Narsil was forged by the Elven smith Telchar "in the deeps of time".
Why did the dinosaurs become extinct?
Maybe their DNA stopped replicating. Everything is finite. Nothing lasts forever.
Why did fishes evolve legs and learn to walk on land?
So that when they die, they can sleep with the people.
How did birds become airborne?
Something about the shape of their wings and the air passing over/under them.
Is humanity the culmination of evolution?
If there is culmination, then we are still culminating. If there is evolution, then God created it like he created everything else.
posted on 06/09/2003 10:31:38 AM PDT
posted on 06/09/2003 10:47:09 AM PDT
Our genes cause changes in us as we grow up and as we grow older as individuals. Our human genome causes changes in the whole human race over time and we are undergoing a major genetic event which is the dawn of the clone.
posted on 06/09/2003 10:50:01 AM PDT
To: FairWitness; *crevo_list
Deep Time Bookmark
posted on 06/09/2003 11:28:48 AM PDT
The reason for this lies with the scale of geological time that scientists are dealing with, which is so vast that it defies narrative. Fossils, such as the fossils that we hail as our ancestors, constitute primary evidence for the history of life, but each fossil is an infinitesimal dot, lost in the fathomless sea of time, whose relationship with other fossil and organisms living in the present day is obscure.
Nobody has ever observed macroevolution, and believers usually claim this is because of the gigantic time frames involved. The question is which came first, the time frames or Darwinism. Was Darwinism adapted to an existing view of the age of the Earth or were systems for believing in these vast expanses of time created for the benefit of Darwin? There are serious reasons for doubting these kinds of dating systems and the time frames derived from them
I thought the "Introduction" worth reproducing here for its emphasis that what is important in biology is understanding "patterns of relationship rather than lines of ancestry"
A very good point. Lines of ancestry is not useful. What we need to examine is how species work, what they can teach us about life and about ourselves. In a way the encyclopedic naturalists before Darwin did much more useful work than those who followed and tried to divine stories of ancestry.
posted on 06/09/2003 8:41:05 PM PDT
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