An introduction to biological systematics
An introduction to biological systematics

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An introduction to biological systematics

2 A first approach to systematics

2.1 Introduction

The late Dr. Colin Patterson was a palaeontologist at the Natural History Museum, and an authority on systematic methods. He played a prominent role in promoting cladistics, the method now most widely employed for phylogenetic analysis. He introduces the sequence of audio clips by drawing attention to the connection perceived by Darwin beteen the systematic grouping of species into higher taxa and the closeness of their evolutionary relationships (‘propinquity of descent’).

This leads on to a consideration of what the term ‘relationship’ means to systematists today and the implications for classification. Three different schools of thought have arisen, and are illustrated using quotations from leading proponents: evolutionary systematics is explained through the words of George Gaylord Simpson, phenetics through those of Ernst Mayr, and cladistics through those of the founder of that school, Willi Hennig. Of these, cladistics has now become the preferred method for phylogenetic analysis, for reasons explained by Dr. Patterson.

The rest of the sequence is devoted to explaining how the method is employed, with reference to both morphological and mocecular data on the higher primates, especially the apes, or hominoids (including our own species). The inference of cladistic relationships, the erection of a classification fimagerom them, and the analysis of biogeographical patterns are all illustrated.

The following sequence consists of a set of audio clips. Each of the clips relate to the image, or images, presented on the page.

Click to view a PDF [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)]   containing all the images that are referred to in the audio sequence.

Click to view a PDF containing the full transcripts of the video clips used in this course.


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