To: All Msg #67, Sep3093 08:12AM Subject: Re: Man's origins (was: re: A friendly Challenge

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From: Chris Ho-Stuart To: All Msg #67, Sep-30-93 08:12AM Subject: Re: Man's origins (was: re: A friendly Challenge) Organization: Uppsala University From: (Chris Ho-Stuart) Message-ID: Newsgroups:,alt.atheism (Richard Trott) writes: > (Chris Ho-Stuart) writes: >>Help me out here. How is the term "pongid" defined? I checked out >>all this stuff once as part of a debate in, but here >>in Sweden I don't have easy access to biological textbooks. >>I was under the impression that "pongid" included both gorillas and >>chimpanzees, though not orangutangs (I forget the technical term) or >>hominids. >According to Futuyma's _Evolutionary Biology_ text (2nd edition, 1986, >page 510, table 1), the family Pongidae includes orangutans, >chimpanzees, and gorillas. Hominidae, of course, includes only >humans. (I am, of course, only speaking of living species. There are, >of course, extinct hominids.) Hylobatidae include gibbons and siamangs. >Cercopithecidae, which are in superfamily Cercopithecoidea, rather than >superfamily Hominoidea which is where the others are classified, includes >Old World monkeys. Thanks: that is exactly what I was looking for. I was evidently mistaken: orangutangs *are* in Pongidae. Technically hominidae is not included within pongidae. This means that pongidae is not monophyletic, which suggests to me that our current taxononmic terminology is a hang over from times when humans were thought to be so exceptionally unique that they should rate their own family. I think taxonomy would reflect our improved understanding of evolutionary relationships much better if hominidae was included within pongidae -- which would mean that there was no such thing as a pongidae/hominidae split. However, so be it. Now consider the evolutionary tree, given that it is now accepted that orangutangs split from humans/chimps/gorrillas before that part of the bush diverged into the modern species. As it stands, we have: /\ / \ / \ / X <--- either X or / /|\ / \ /\ / / | \ /\ \ / X / / | \ / \ \ / / \ / / | \ orang gorilla chimp human \________ ______/ \/ Pongidae Hominidae By conventions established before the above evolutionary tree was known, the subtree Hominidae has been pruned from the Pongidae subtree, so Pongidae is not monophyletic. Now let "X" be the most recent common ancestor of humans and any of the modern pongidae species. "X" should be considered within pongidae, or else we have the really unfortunate situation that Pongidae is merely a clipping of leaves from the evolutionary bush, excluding the very species which first developed those features by which Pongidae can now be identified! I remain, of course, not-an-expert! Feliciations -- Chris Ho-Stuart


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