|Geology 105 - Paleontology|
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For this assignment, we will use four reading resources:
Chapter 5, p. 129-135.
In the Paleo binder in the commons room: Gould, S. J., 1983, What, If Anything, is a Zebra?, Hen's Teeth and Horse's Toes: Further Reflections in Natural History, New York: W.W. Norton & Co., pp.355-365.
Evolution 101: Patterns - click through all the web pages in this section of Evolution 101
Biological Diversity: Classification
|taxon - a grouping of organisms|
|taxonomy - sorting organisms into groups|
|systematics - the study of the diversity of organisms, including evolutionary patterns|
|shared derived characters -|
1. Basics of biological classification (Biological Diversity: Classification)
A. Hierarchal groups:
Kingdom, Phylum, Class, Order, Family, Genus, Species
Kingdom; fundamentally different kinds of creatures (e.g., plant, animal, fungus, etc.)
Phylum - different body architectures (e.g., Arthropods have jointed appendages, segmented body, chitonous exoskeleton)
Family - recognizable kind of organism; e.g., squirrel, cat, human
Species - specific kind of organism; red squirrel, Asiatic lion, modern human
B. Naming: Suppose you find a fossil brachiopod? What do you have to do to name the species?
2. Why Classify? Read the Gould Article for these questions.
A. To identify morphologic groups - organisms that look like the "same kind" of creature.
E.g., it's easier to refer to "fish" than to "vertebrate organisms with gills and fins that live in the water"
B. To represent evolutionary relationships.
Are all fish more closely related to each other than to other groups?
C. To create a database for answering biological questions, e.g., biodiversity
3. Changing approaches
Traditional biological classifiaction is heirarchal, resulting in a system that looks like this.
This approach puts organisms with similar characteristics in similar boxes, and lumps some boxes together into higher level boxes, but does not tell us how related the boxes at the same level are to each other.
So paleontologists produced diagrams of evolution through time that looked like trees, like this one of horses.
But the linkage between the two kinds of diagrams is messy. Where are the hierarchal boxes on the horse evolutionary tree?
And our classification system does not automatically tell us about how the organisms are related to each other.
In the past few decades, biologists have come up with another approach: cladistic analysis, well described in Evolution 101: Patterns
A. Briefly describe the sequence of steps in doing cladistic analysis (let's call the diagrams that are produced phylogenetic trees or cladograms).
B. How is a cladogram different from the evolutionary tree of the horses?
C. How would classification derived from cladistic analysis be different than the traditional Linnean groups (family, order, etc.)?