Wednesday, April 1, 2015

A sneak peek at what I've been up to

In between writing scripts for TetZoo Time, grading weekly quizzes, and wondering why there aren't more phylogenetic analyses of xenarthrans with more than craniodental characters, I've been busy. Most importantly, I have been busy co-authoring a revolutionary new paper... or what would be a revolutionary new paper if, in acts of blatant scientific censorship, all the legitimate scientific journals we submitted to had not rejected the manuscript.

Thus, for the time being, I have chosen to reveal some of the most important results of our study on my blog. This is at the tremendous risk of having this information scooped by other researchers, but I believe it is more important to publicize it as soon as possible, in hopes of misleading illuminating passing readers.

Results of phylogenetic analysis of Volantia, with identified synapomorphies labeled.

It's another phylogenetic analysis of Volantia, but in addition to being the largest analysis of this group to date, we also used this opportunity to test dogmatically popular hypotheses such as the theropod origin of birds. We were able to falsify these hypotheses by a priori reasoning, a truly devastating blow to textbook wisdom. However, mainstream science is loath to update textbooks, a primarily motivator behind the organized movement to bar our study from publication. The joke's on you, ivory tower suckers! Ha ha!

We also discovered that it's easy to recover the clades you want if you count a single character as 23 out of a total of 131. Likely this has been the case for analyses purporting to support birds as theropods, but almost no one else has ever caught this because phylogenetic matrices are well designed to blur the vision of anyone trying to evaluate what data was input into them.

Emily, Scott Reid, and Adam Schmoetzer provided helpful discussion that greatly improved this manuscript, though evidently not enough to get it published in a high-profile journal.


  1. Volantia makes its triumphant return!

    That chart is amazing, well worth viewing full-size for all the tiny text.

    1. Thanks! I feel bad about using the same joke three years in a row, but I wasn't fooling about being busy and tried to milk what I could.

  2. your cladogram work is really interestnig! I was wondering if I could make my own version of your cartoon cladogram and illuminate it based off of your legend? Half of the time i find cladograms to be a snapshot of what has been discovered here and now, I've always wanted my own personal artistic copy. You are very inspiring.

    1. Thank you! Please feel free to use the cartoon guide as a basis for your own creations. I look forward to seeing them!

      A warning: if it was not clear, the cladogram in this particular blog post is meant to be a joke and should not be used as a (serious) reference.