Here, British physicist David Tyler discusses the longevity of the harvester species – one type of which is called, in North America, daddy long legs (as in the UD News item on the subject earlier today here). Anyway, Tyler:
There is a problem with much of the terminology being used to describe fossils. I am thinking of words like: “primitive” and “modern” (also “stem” and “crown”). Much of this terminology is driven by a Darwinian perspective – a theoretical model of what the fossil record ought to be like. Cladism has imbibed this mindset, because it infers a lineage of organisms that can be reconstructed by the appearance of novel structures.
Unfortunately, the fossil record is proving to be less and less Darwinian as we examine the details. We have modern body plans where there should be primitive body plans. We have primitive ‘relict’ species living on when they should have become extinct. We have to invoke ‘convergence’ to explain similar structures that do not fit the linear model. (But convergence is ubiquitous – here). Why should we live with such an unwieldy interpretative framework?
Most significant is the pattern of animal and plant radiation that we find in the fossil record. Darwin predicted a branching bush or tree – but this is not what we find! More.