Polyphyletic

From Academic Kids

In phylogenetics, a taxon is polyphyletic if it is descended from more than one root form (in Greek poly = many and phyletic = racial).

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The "lower land vertebrates" are a polyphyletic group.

Scientific classification aims to group species together such that every group is descended from a single common ancestor, and the elimination of groups that are found to be polyphyletic is therefore a common goal, and is often the stimulus for major revisions of the classification schemes. A polyphletic group can be "fixed" by excluding clades.

Opinions differ as to whether valid groups need to contain all the descendants of a common ancestors. Groups that do so are called monophyletic, and according to cladistics it should be the aim of classification to ensure that all groups have this property. However, many other taxonomists would argue that there is a valid place for groups that are paraphyletic, i.e. contain only the descendants of a common ancestor, but do not contain all its descendants.

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