RELATIVITY IN PHYLOGENETIC AND
Review of: MULLER, Arno Hermann: Lehrbuch der Palaozoologie. Band
II, Invertebraten, Teil I, Protozoa - Mollusca 1, 4., neu bearb. und
erw. Auflage. 685 pp., 746 figs. Jena, Stuttgart, G. Fischer Verlag 1993.
"There are nine and sixty ways of constructing tribal
lays, and every single one of them is right."
It is impossible to review Muller's 4th edition of Lehrbuch der Palaozoologie,
Invertebraten II, 1, without having its author constantly in mind with
his intense love of the science concerning fossil animals. Something from
enthusiasm of this well-known palaeontologist is conveyed in his textbooks
to a much wider public than could be reached by his numerous scientific
papers. Many of young people may found here, reading this most admirable
and coherent series, their first stimulation for the study of palaeontology.
They may be merely taken into the petrified animal world by a really knowledgeable
expert with a lifelong experience (some amount of the factual information
presented is based on the author's own observations). Of course, the volume
reviewed is not quite a new book: it is an expanded and re-written version
of Muller's earlier work. It is, however, considerably expanded; in place
of 566 pages and 652 figures of the first edition (Jena, VEB G. Fischer
1958) there are now 685 pages and 746 figures. Moreover, thanks to the
really excellent typographic arrangement of the book, each page, although
retaining the same format, consists of almost two times more information
than that of the first edition.
This volume deals systematically with the phyla: Protozoa, Archaeocyatha,
Porifera, Coelenterata, Bryozoa, Brachiopoda, group of phyla "Vermes",
and with first three classes of Mollusca (i.e. Amphineura, Scaphopoda and
Lamellibranchiata). Of course, the goal of this volume is different from
that one of the famous Treatise on Invertebrate Paleontology: it is a "Lehrbuch",
i.e. textbook, and in that it is highly successful in its purpose.
In Folia Geobotanica & Phytotaxonomica, 28 (for 1993), n.
4, my friend and "philosophical competitor" dr. J. Krhovsky (I am indebted
to him for enabling me to read his manuscript and to write the present
article) has given a review of Muller's "Lehrbuch der Palaozoologie,
Band I, Allgemeine Grundlagen" (5. Auflage, G. Fischer Verlag 1992).
His rather critical comments are, however, relative. Our knowledge of the
phylogeny and, therefore, of the palaeontological systematics is still
in a highly speculative state. There are numerous evolutionary schools
in the world which have ideas of their own and they all develop them with
logical reasoning, skill and enthusiasm. Moreover, there are even several
"school realms" (e.g. German, American) which actually exist, although,
of course, not officially. It is obvious that most of the conflicts between
the different schools lie in their fundamental philosophy or "partial belief"
than in the nature of the data obtained during the research (although,
by the way, also the data may be strongly affected by that "partial belief").
It is highly relative to say that the evolutionary science has a common
concept or that it even forms one definite stream!
Each school gives its objectives at hand and that is to prove its theory
is best. Therefore, for a member of a different school it seems, for instance,
that the information on Schindewolf's typostrophic theory in the "Allgemeine
Grundlagen" does not represent modern concepts. But therein lies the problem:
it is a matter of the "partial belief" (i.e. of the question: Which school
will share his opinion?). Evaluation of the different evolutionary thinkings
(from which different phylogenies, systematics and even different methodologies
are resulted) can be difficult, in that there are (at least in many cases)
no self-evident "truths" against which to compare their conclusions. In
some respect, the results of the different schools can be compared only
against each other. For illustration at least one sentence representing
seemingly a self-evident truth: "The degree of specialization is not a
function of time. Even the most viable extant taxonomic groups have their
roots in Precambrian". Yes, for great majority of schools it is really
a self-evident truth, but there exists something like "stability of established
chronospecies with relatively constant average species longevities in different
taxonomic groups", an interesting phenomenon studied e.g. by one of the
leading persons of the "American school realm", Steven Stanley. Moreover,
the argument of "the most viable extant taxonomic groups having their roots
in Precambrian" is logically weak: no existing species has its members
in Precambrian and no taxonomic group does represent a real entity except
species. Therefore, at present we cannot exclude the concept of typolysis
from the many of existing possibilities of plausible explanations. Of course,
Schindewolf's evolutionary school does not form neither the "main stream"
nor a "blind alley". Until comparatively recently there was generally (and
especially in the "American realm of thinking"!) a tendency to view evolution
as gradual, i.e. in consequencies strongly "non-Schindewolfian". Really,
only twenty five years ago the majority of palaeontologists believed that
all evolution of life was characterized by cumulative slow changes produced
by natural selection operating at relatively constant rates. As stated
by Stephen Jay Gould, the "first man" in the U. S., it was a definite empirical
claim about the world. And now we all know it was not a self-evident truth
but even a false claim and that, at least from this simple empirical viewpoint,
Schindewolf was right - moreover, he was right many years before the beginning
of the "punctuational revolution" in America (Eldredge and Gould 1972).
In other words, including W. Buckland's, G. Cuvier's and T. H. Huxley's,
there were nine and sixty ways of constructing the tempo of evolution and
every single one of them comes to "saltation".