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Abstract Detail

Paleobotanical Section

Crepet, William [1], Nixon, Kevin [2], Gandolfo, Maria [3].

The Mismeasure of a mystery: Angiosperm origins and Phylogentics.

Angiosperms have been a focus of evolutionists for over a century and the "Abominable Mystery" of Darwin has been a diadem in the treasury of the great questions that science has failed to resolve. Consequently, the "mystery" has been the focus of powerful new analytical tools grouped under "phylogenetics". Yet, instead of clarifying angiosperm origins, contradictory results of applications of phylogenetic methodologies have further confused our understanding of angiosperm relationships. This systemic incongruence has been exacerbated by conflicting treatments of potentially illuminating fossil taxa such as Bennettitales, seed ferns, and Archaefructus. Complicating matters is the subtle influence of historical thought which seems to have: 1. Affected the way these taxa are coded, 2. Affected the construction of the matrices themselves, and 3. Resulted in selective presentation of results of various analyses. Therefore, cladograms based on structural features or on analyses that include them may reflect outcomes based on more than objective readings of available evidence. Moreover, there has been an inconsistently applied tendency to demand rigor in defining angiosperms and in identifying their characters. Resulting restricted definitions sometimes exclude possibly relevant fossils from analyses thereby obscuring their true affinities. Further confusing the issue is a contrasting tendency to group certain fossils with angiosperms and to then code certain of their characters as homologous, often based on complex scenarios of change. Elimination of encoded hypotheses, recognition of the limits of fossil data, and more objective analysis may improve our ability to identify likely angiosperm ancestors by bringing into play information now hiding in plain sight.

Broader Impacts:

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Related Links:

1 - Cornell Univeristy, Department Of Plant Biology, 413 Mann Library, Ithaca, NY, 14853, USA
2 - Cornell Univeristy, L. H. BAILEY HORTORIUM, 408 MANN LIBRARY, ITHACA, NY, 14853-4301, USA
3 - Cornell Univeristy, L. H. BAILEY HORTORIUM, 410 Mann Library Building, ITHACA, NY, 14853-4301, USA


Presentation Type: Oral Paper:Papers for Sections
Session: 46
Location: Forsyth Room/Chase Park Plaza
Date: Wednesday, July 13th, 2011
Time: 10:30 AM
Number: 46002
Abstract ID:318

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