I Was Wrong on "Monophyletic"

I was wrong. I incorrectly used the terms “monophyletic” and “polyphyletic” in my book, The Genealogical Adam and Eve. I am correcting the record here.


Well, at least you didn’t swap “polytheistic” with “monotheistic”…

That wouldn’t have gone over well with your target audience.


I’d don’t swap monophyletic and polyphyletic either :slight_smile: . I just used them wrong.

This is the first time I’ve ever heard the terms “monophylogeny” and “paraphylogeny”. I have heard “monophyletic” and “paraphyletic”, and “monophyly” and “paraphyly”. But I haven’t heard those first two, nor their presumed derivatives “monophylogenetic” and “paraphylogenetic”. New to me.


Monophylogeny and Polyphylogeny are used by Alan Templeton to distinguish theories of multiple biological race from those with a single race.

I made the mistake of throwing in the -phyletic terms. I was wrong there.

Is your usage (and Templeton’s?) related to the old term “polygenic”, and “polygeny” which referred once upon a time to arguments that different human populations or races arose separately? (Of course “polygenic” is also used in an unrelated sense in quantitative genetics, where polygenic simply means that the variation in the trait are caused by variation at multiple loci. And in the 1940s some thought that these were special sorts of genes which could be called “polygenes”. This had nothing to do with the issue of separate origins for different populations.)

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@Joe_Felsenstein I’m not sure the origin of the word and don’t want to multiply any errors here, but what you write sounds reasonable. The value of those terms is that they are not common in the scientific literature now, so I have some more autonomy in using them. As I’ve said, I believe I am using them consistent with Alan Templeton in his work arguing against biological race among humans alive today.

Anyway, they’re Alan’s idiosyncratic usages and are not intended to address whether groups of species are monophyletic.

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Exactly, which is why I issued the correction. My use in the book of the -phyletic terms was wrong.

Given the ambiguity of the term “biological type”, there seems no way to rescue a meaningful usage of “monophylogeny” or “polyphylogeny”.

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