Re: Jeffrey H. Schwartz' theories today - still alive???

Alex Duncan (
9 Jul 1995 18:23:29 GMT

As contradictory as this may sound, I'm a Schwartz fan, and don't agree
with most of his stuff.
Schwartz has done us all a favor by calling into question the
polarity states that we assign to characters when doing phylogenetic
analysis. I think he's right about some, and wrong about others. It's
been a while since I've read his stuff, so I'd have to reread to be
specific. But the questions raised are interesting. For example, do we
really KNOW that tall, oval orbits are a synapomorphy of the Siva/Orang
clade? They also show up in Afropithecus, and in Aegyptopithecus as
well. How about airorhynchy? Again, it may be present in Afro and
How about some of the physical synapomorphies uniting an African
ape/human clade? I sure do wish there were more of them. Klinorhychy,
possibly, but we really aren't sure about the polarity. Formation of the
articulation between premaxilla and maxilla? Another possibility, but
Schwartz would take issue. Early fusion of the os centrale to the
scaphoid may be a good one, but fusion also takes place in orangs
sometimes. There are a few more possibilities that I can't think of
right now. Maybe we can get Harry Erwin to share some info. from his
Most of the evidence supporting the African ape/human clade is
molecular. I don't think Schwartz's criticisms of this data are valid.
Schwartz has some especially interesting thoughts regarding
prosimians. He puts tarsiers in a clade w/ galagos. Wow! I think he's
heretical in a few other areas as well. At any rate, even if he's wrong,
and I'm not sure he is, he is important to the science if he makes us
reevaluate our ideas (even if we only end up reconfirming them with
better data).

Alex Duncan
Dept. of Anthropology
University of Texas at Austin
Austin, TX 78712-1086