- “By about 1960 palaeontology had achieved such a hold on phylogeny reconstruction that there was a commonplace belief that if a group had no fossil record its phylogeny was totally unknown and unknowable” (Patterson 1987:8).
By the early 1980s three books were published, all dealing with cladistics. Each approached its topic from a different perspective: Phylogenetic Analysis and Paleontology by Joel Cracraft & Niles Eldredge (Columbia University Press, New York, 1981), Phylogenetics: The Theory and Practice of Phylogenetic Systematics by Ed Wiley (New York: Wiley Interscience, 1981) and Systematics and Biogeography: Cladistics and Vicariance by Gary Nelson and Norman Platnick (Columbia University Press, New York, 1981).
While all three books have their merits, it is the last, Systematics and Biogeography: Cladistics and Vicariance that broke into new ground; and it is the last that, some 28 years after its first appearance and almost impossible to get a copy, is being made available by the University of California Press at http://www.ucpress.edu/books/series/spsy.php
Cladistics, as outlined in Systematics and Biogeography: Cladistics and Vicariance, might be understood as a reaction to phylogeny reconstruction, or more specifically, Haeckel’s paleontological version of it, developed by Matthews and Simpson. Systematics and Biogeography is a detailed critique of Haeckel’s legacy and an outline of what can be understood as natural classification, as first sketched by Candolle in his Théorie élémentaire de la Botanique – the question addressed being: How do ancestor—descendant relationships relate to natural classification?
Since Systematics and Biogeography there have been discourses on ‘tree-thinking’, ‘group-thinking’ and ‘population-thinking’, none seemingly appropriate for classification: Classification (and phylogeny, and systematics) are all best referred to as relationship-thinking, of which Systematics and Biogeography is a meditation on.
Download this book now from the University of California Press website – and see if you can start another revolution.