Phylogenetic Analysis and the Detection of Ontogenetic Patterns

  • William L. Fink
Part of the Topics in Geobiology book series (TGBI, volume 7)


Some years ago an article in the journal Nature recounted a discussion which had occurred at a meeting of paleontologists at the British Museum (Halstead, 1978; see also Gardiner et al., 1979). Part of the debate concerned the differing classifications systematists of two schools might propose based on the same evidence about relationships. The schools were the phylogenetic (or cladistic) school and the “evolutionary” school. One discussant rose to claim that given a lungfish, a salmon, and a cow to classify, a phylogeneticist would perform the ridiculous action of grouping the lungfish and the cow together, exclusive of the salmon. A phylogeneticist replied “Yes, I cannot see what is wrong in that” (Halstead, 1978). Such exchanges exemplify some of the arguments that, until recently, were the stock in trade of gatherings concerning comparative biology and systematics. The debate has touched many areas of the biological sciences, from biogeography to developmental biology. What follows is a summary of the assumptions and methods of phylogenetic systematics, and how its practice can elucidate the relationship between ontogeny and phylogeny. I also address the problem of integrating studies of ontogenetic processes such as heterochrony into a modern comparative framework.


Fossil Record Body Depth Evolutionary Novelty Tooth Morphology Positional Problem 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1988

Authors and Affiliations

  • William L. Fink
    • 1
  1. 1.Museum of Zoology and Department of BiologyUniversity of MichiganAnn ArborUSA

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