It is widely believed that fossils are of fundamental importance in reconstructÂ ing phylogeny (e.g. 24, 28). Simpson (52, p. 83), for example, argued that "fossils provide the soundest basis for evolutionary classification." Although phylogenies of mï¿½y groups have been reconstructed using morphological or chemical characters of extant organisms alone, it is often noted that fossils would have been of great use in clarifying relationships and that conclusions are necessarily tenuous in their absence. Thus, Thome (58, p. 85) commented 0066-4170/90/010110431$02.00 DONOGHUE ET AL in regard to angiosperms that "the best classification we can construct with present information is a poor semblance of what it should be if the fossil record were more complete ." This view of the importance of fossils has been criticized by phylogenetic systematists. Hennig (26) introduced a very general approach to the reconstruction of phylogeny-a method that could be applied to living organÂ isms alone, to fossils , or to both. He recognized that fossils might be useful in assessing the direction of character evolution and could aid in detecting instances of convergence (e.g. through the discovery of plesiomorphic taxa lacking convergent characters of Recent groups). However, Hennig also stressed that fossils are
Annual Review of Ecology, Evolution, and Systematics – Annual Reviews
Published: Nov 1, 1989
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