Lab6_Reading_F19.pdf - ANT 301 Introduction to Physical Anthropology Fall 2016 CLADISTICS Taxonomy is the science of naming and classifying organisms A

Lab6_Reading_F19.pdf - ANT 301 Introduction to Physical...

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ANT 301 Introduction to Physical Anthropology Fall 2016 CLADISTICS Taxonomy is the science of naming and classifying organisms. A more general term for classification is systematics . In biology, the term systematics is often (but not always) applied to the use of evolutionary relationships to classify organisms. Because this is an anthropology class, we are concerned with the application of systematics to fossil and living primates. It is important to remember that one could use any means of classification to organize the world's living and fossil species. Organisms could be grouped on the basis of size, whether they lived on land or in the sea, by color, etc. However, one of the main tenets of evolutionary biology is that different species may resemble each other for a variety of specific reasons, including (1) close evolutionary relationships, (2) retention of features from a distant common ancestor, and (3) adaptation to similar niches and environments (i.e., convergent evolution). When it comes to the process of reconstructing evolutionary (= phylogenetic ) relationships, certain types of resemblances between species are more useful than others. CLADISTICS Organisms can be grouped based on general similarity (i.e. phenetic or ecological classification ) or on the basis of shared derived traits (i.e. phylogenetic or cladistic classification ; see below for a more detailed discussion of derived traits). Of these methods, phenetic classification has proven insufficient because it does not account for the fact that similar features may evolve independently in separate evolutionary lineages and that features may be retained from very distant common ancestors. Cladistic classification, however, differs from phenetics in that (1) evolutionary relationships are inferred solely on the basis of shared derived features and (2) similar features are assumed to have evolved independently in separate linages as few times as possible (the principle of parsimony ).
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