[asa] Testing in the historical sciences (was: What causes students...)

From: Keith Miller <kbmill@ksu.edu>
Date: Mon Sep 11 2006 - 12:13:58 EDT

With regard to the testing of hypotheses in paleontology --

The important concept is that common descent provides testable
expectations. A cladogram (or phylogeny) can be understood as an
evolutionary hypothesis that makes predictions about the anatomy of
currently unknown or incompletely known organisms, as well as about the
relative time of appearance of specific anatomical traits. In
combination with a knowledge of past paleobiogeography and
paleogeography, such models of biological relationships can also
provide expectations of where organisms with such anatomical characters
might be found in the fossil record.

Often initial important discoveries are highly serendipitous. However,
often subsequent related discoveries are not. For example the initial
discovery of the earliest known member of the whale lineage - Pakicetus
- was serendipitous. However, the subsequent discovery of the 23 or so
new genera of "walking whales" was not.


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Received on Mon Sep 11 12:14:30 2006

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