Uncommon Descent Serving The Intelligent Design Community

Why call it a phylogenetic tree … ?

spirogyra conjugating, Wikimedia

… when it gets uprooted this often? From ScienceDaily (“Ancestors of Land Plants Revealed”, May 2, 2011),

It was previously thought that land plants evolved from stonewort-like algae. However, new research published in BioMed Central’s open access journal BMC Evolutionary Biology shows that the closest relatives to land plants are actually conjugating green algae such as Spirogyra.[ … ]

Dr Becker explained, “It seems that Zygnematales have lost oogamy and their ability to produce sperm and egg cells, and instead, possibly due to selection pressure in the absence of free water, use conjugation for reproduction. Investigation of such a large number of genes has shown that, despite their apparent simplicity, Zygnematales have genetic traces of other complex traits also associated with green land plants. Consequently Zygnematales true place as the closest living relative to land plants has been revealed.” Yes, but … 

The term “selection pressure” may explain how “closest living relative” morphed into “ancestor.”

Would “phylogenetic seaweed” be the right plant metaphor for evolution? Drifting, drifting, washing up first here and then there …  and who knows … ?

But “tree”? The hallmark of stability in nature?

Is a phylogenetic tree a tree that hugs humans? Mung

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