The concept of monophyly: A speculative essay [Book Review]
David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
Learn more about PhilPapers
Biology and Philosophy 14 (3):331-348 (1999)
The concept of monophyly is central to much of modern biology. Despite many efforts over many years, important questions remain unanswered that relate both to the concept itself and to its various applications. This essay focuses primarily on four of these: i) Is it possible to define monophyly operationally, specifically with respect to both the structures of genomes and at the levels of the highest phylogenetic categories (kingdoms, phyla, classes)? ii) May the mosaic and chimeric structures of genomes be sufficiently important factors in phylogeny that situations exist in which the concept may not be applicable? iii) In the history of life on earth were there important groups of organisms that probably had polyphyletic, rather than monophyletic, origins? iv) Does the near universal search for monophyletic origins of clades lead, on occasion, to both undesirable narrowing of acceptable options for development of evolutionary scenarios and sometimes actual omission from consideration of less conventional types of both data and modes of thought, possibly at the expense of biological understanding? Three sections in the essay consider possible answers to these questions: i) A reassessment is made of major features of both the concept and some of its applications. Recent research results make it seem improbable that there could have been single basal forms for many of the highest categories of evolutionary differentiation (kingdoms, phyla, classes). The universal tree of life probably had many roots. Facts contributing to this perception include the phylogenetically widespread occurrences of: horizontal transfers of plasmids, viral genomes, and transposons; multiple genomic duplications; the existence and properties of large numbers of gene families and protein families; multiple symbioses; broad-scale hybridizations; and multiple homoplasys. Next, justifications are reassessed for the application of monophyletic frameworks to two major evolutionary developments usually interpreted as having been monophyletic: ii) the origins of life; and iii) the origins of the vertebrate tetrapods. For both cases polyphyletic hypotheses are suggested as more probable than monophyletic hypotheses. Major conclusions are, as answers to the four questions posed above: probably not, yes, yes, and yes.
|Keywords||cladistics evolutionary genomics monophyly origins of life origins of tetrapods phylogeny systematics|
|Categories||categorize this paper)|
Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
|Through your library|
References found in this work BETA
No references found.
Citations of this work BETA
No citations found.
Similar books and articles
John Harris (1999). The Concept of the Person and the Value of Life. Kennedy Institute of Ethics Journal 9 (4):293-308.
Maureen A. O.’Malley (2010). Ernst Mayr, the Tree of Life, and Philosophy of Biology. Biology and Philosophy 25 (4):529-552.
Robert G. Beiko (2010). Gene Sharing and Genome Evolution: Networks in Trees and Trees in Networks. Biology and Philosophy 25 (4):659-673.
Karel Kleisner (2007). The Formation of the Theory of Homology in Biological Sciences. Acta Biotheoretica 55 (4).
Janet L. Travis (1971). A Criticism of the Use of the Concept of "Dominant Group" in Arguments for Evolutionary Progressivism. Philosophy of Science 38 (3):369-375.
Mark Wilkinson (1990). A Commentary on Ridley's Cladistic Solution to the Species Problem. Biology and Philosophy 5 (4):433-446.
John S. Wilkins (2003). How to Be a Chaste Species Pluralist-Realist: The Origins of Species Modes and the Synapomorphic Species Concept. [REVIEW] Biology and Philosophy 18 (5):621-638.
Brent D. Mishler & Robert N. Brandon (1987). Individuality, Pluralism, and the Phylogenetic Species Concept. Biology and Philosophy 2 (4):397-414.
Joel D. Velasco (2009). When Monophyly is Not Enough: Exclusivity as the Key to Defining a Phylogenetic Species Concept. Biology and Philosophy 24 (4):473-486.
Oliver Putz (2005). Evolutionary Biology in the Theology of Karl Rahner. Philosophy and Theology 17 (1/2):85-105.
Added to index2009-01-28
Total downloads27 ( #65,804 of 1,102,998 )
Recent downloads (6 months)3 ( #120,820 of 1,102,998 )
How can I increase my downloads?