In his criticism of phylogenetic analyses based on character distributions in taxa, Vermeij (1999) cites a number of commonly recognized impediments to such analyses (noise, instability of nodes, homoplasy, ambiguity of polarity, etc.) as if they were the basis for such repudiation in the general case. Of course, the impact of these factors will vary from case to case and the notion that phylogenetic analysis can be difficult if data are spotty, complex, or ambiguous does not obviate the method. In addition, Vermeij notes, as have others (Hecht 1976; Kirsch and Archer 1982), that application of the...

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