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By Brian I. Crother, Lynne R. Parenti

This booklet is a thought-provoking review of assumptions inhibiting development in comparative biology. the amount is galvanized through an inventory generated years prior by way of Donn Rosen, probably the most influential, leading edge and effective comparative biologists of the latter 20th century. His record has assumed nearly mythical prestige between comparative evolutionary biologists. strangely some of the obstructing assumptions implicated by means of Rosen stay proper this day. Any comparative biologist hoping to prevent such assumptions of their personal examine will make the most of this introspective volume.

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4 END NOTE The title of our essay, Rosen Decomposing, suggests an old joke or cartoon of uncertain attribution that was one of Donn’s favorites� In one version of the cartoon, German composer Ludwig von Beethoven has died and is sitting up in his grave erasing his musical notation� The caption reads “Beethoven decomposing�” ACKNOWLEDGMENTS We thank Gary Nelson for highlighting Colin Patterson’s comments on Rosen’s erasures in his presentation at the JMIH symposium in Reno, Nevada, July 2015� REFERENCES de Carvalho, M� R� and M� T� Craig (Eds)� 2011� Morphological and molecular approaches to the phylogeny of fishes: Integration or conflict?

This question has never been answered, and little wonder, for the fact is, in phylogenetic investigation, we are simply assuming the appropriateness of the concept of ancestry and descent (or genealogy) as an axiom for the interpretation of a pattern of character distributions�” Donn E. Rosen, Skepticism, and Evolution 29 7� Fossils specify the age of their including taxon� “When we see a species first appearing in the middle of any formation, it would be rash in the extreme to infer that it had not elsewhere previously existed�” (Darwin 1859:302)� Given Rosen’s skepticism with Darwinian/neo-Darwinian explanations of diversity, inclusion of the above quote from Darwin may seem ironic� Perhaps so, but I cite it to demonstrate the intuitiveness of this inhibiting assumption� It is clearly puzzling to Rosen that somehow biologists overlook the simple logic that fossils only give minimum ages as well as the implications for ignoring this logic� From Rosen’s (1975:458) Caribbean vicariance paper: “So accustomed are we to interpreting the occurrence of Pleistocene fossils (which are relatively abundant in the Caribbean region) as indicating that the regional history is tied to Pleistocene events, that we have forgotten that fossils give us a minimum rather than a maximum age for the groups of which they are members�” Patterson and Rosen (1977:154) wrote: “It also entails arguments consistent with the ideas that specimen age cannot settle questions about age of the taxa to which fossils are assigned and that specimen age can never falsify theories of relationship based on biological evidence�” And from Rosen’s (1985b:636) exquisite geological hierarchies paper: “Other biologists (Darlington, 1965; McDowall, 1971; Briggs, 1984) tried and still try to rescue the past by agreeing that the geography did in fact move but that the timing of these great events was wrong in relation to the ages of the biotas� Such attitudes might invoke the ages of fossils to show that all the taxa are too young to have been influenced by the geographic cataclysms� This view involves two assumptions, both wrong at some level: 1) that fossils can tell us how old a taxon is and 2) that the ages of the geologic events have been correctly assigned� The first assumption is wrong because fossils give a minimum rather than maximum age of a taxon, and the second assumption is put into question by recent age reassignments�” 8� Adaptation scenarios have important general explanatory power� In the 1985 Miami course, Rosen conducted an exercise on adaptation, and it’s an exercise I still use in some of my courses� Across the top of a long chalkboard, he listed flatfish asymmetry, long legs of giraffes, poor eyesight of rhinoceroses, snout asymmetry in freshwater porpoises, and the coiled/uncoiled shell morphology variation in oyster drill mollusks� He then asked us to consider the adaptive advantages of each one� We constructed long lists of possibilities for each one and then Rosen asked us which one was correct for each example� We were flummoxed by the question, because it seemed simple� You just test them one at a time until you can’t falsify one� Discussion ensued and it became clear that the study of adaptation has the problem of uncertainty associated with it� In fact, why must a feature, any feature, be an adaptation at all (e�g�, Gould and Lewontin 1979)?

This question has never been answered, and little wonder, for the fact is, in phylogenetic investigation, we are simply assuming the appropriateness of the concept of ancestry and descent (or genealogy) as an axiom for the interpretation of a pattern of character distributions�” Donn E. Rosen, Skepticism, and Evolution 29 7� Fossils specify the age of their including taxon� “When we see a species first appearing in the middle of any formation, it would be rash in the extreme to infer that it had not elsewhere previously existed�” (Darwin 1859:302)� Given Rosen’s skepticism with Darwinian/neo-Darwinian explanations of diversity, inclusion of the above quote from Darwin may seem ironic� Perhaps so, but I cite it to demonstrate the intuitiveness of this inhibiting assumption� It is clearly puzzling to Rosen that somehow biologists overlook the simple logic that fossils only give minimum ages as well as the implications for ignoring this logic� From Rosen’s (1975:458) Caribbean vicariance paper: “So accustomed are we to interpreting the occurrence of Pleistocene fossils (which are relatively abundant in the Caribbean region) as indicating that the regional history is tied to Pleistocene events, that we have forgotten that fossils give us a minimum rather than a maximum age for the groups of which they are members�” Patterson and Rosen (1977:154) wrote: “It also entails arguments consistent with the ideas that specimen age cannot settle questions about age of the taxa to which fossils are assigned and that specimen age can never falsify theories of relationship based on biological evidence�” And from Rosen’s (1985b:636) exquisite geological hierarchies paper: “Other biologists (Darlington, 1965; McDowall, 1971; Briggs, 1984) tried and still try to rescue the past by agreeing that the geography did in fact move but that the timing of these great events was wrong in relation to the ages of the biotas� Such attitudes might invoke the ages of fossils to show that all the taxa are too young to have been influenced by the geographic cataclysms� This view involves two assumptions, both wrong at some level: 1) that fossils can tell us how old a taxon is and 2) that the ages of the geologic events have been correctly assigned� The first assumption is wrong because fossils give a minimum rather than maximum age of a taxon, and the second assumption is put into question by recent age reassignments�” 8� Adaptation scenarios have important general explanatory power� In the 1985 Miami course, Rosen conducted an exercise on adaptation, and it’s an exercise I still use in some of my courses� Across the top of a long chalkboard, he listed flatfish asymmetry, long legs of giraffes, poor eyesight of rhinoceroses, snout asymmetry in freshwater porpoises, and the coiled/uncoiled shell morphology variation in oyster drill mollusks� He then asked us to consider the adaptive advantages of each one� We constructed long lists of possibilities for each one and then Rosen asked us which one was correct for each example� We were flummoxed by the question, because it seemed simple� You just test them one at a time until you can’t falsify one� Discussion ensued and it became clear that the study of adaptation has the problem of uncertainty associated with it� In fact, why must a feature, any feature, be an adaptation at all (e�g�, Gould and Lewontin 1979)?

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