In a recent Matters of the Record, Vermeij (1999) identifies what he regards as a fundamental problem with cladistic analysis. “The phylogenetic method,” he states (p. 431), “derives phylogeny in one part of the tree by relying on character-taxon relationships in another part of the tree, in direct violation of the principle that clades, once they have diverged from each other, are independent of one another.” Vermeij fails to appreciate the distinction between pattern-based cladograms, which are hierarchies founded on homology hypotheses, and logically contingent, process-based trees, which are depictions of temporal evolution. As a result, he treats cladograms as...

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