B.U.N.K. Volume 2, Number 1 (1984)


A Poëm

Richard C. Fox
Department of Zoology
University of Alberta
Edmonton, Alberta
T6G 2E3, CANADA

Ankylodon sp., upper left molar.
Illustration by D. Hollingdale.

The origin of mammals,
In Mesozoic time,
ls lumined by grim fables,
Set in a cladist's rhyme.

For in the cladist's view,
You see,
We are our father's sires:
We have not changed within our tree -
For us, our classifiers.

We're only terminal branches,
On a noded dendrology,
A pattern of sticks in stasis,
Non-evolution-ary!

But list'! - the clock just struck Triassic,
A beady eye now stares,
Searching a way to sister-group:
"Which way are characters shared? "

One says it's with therapsids,
That our alliance in future will be,
All chewing and chomping and breathing at once,
Hot - endothermically.

Another says it's birds we're with,
"It's Nature's hierarchy, see!
Joined with transformed cladists,
In feathered synapomorphy.

But alas - are we not yet mammals?
Can't we make the grade?
Or must we still be protists,
Half-Nelsoned in our clade.


Copyright © 1984, 1996, David R. Maddison, John H. Acorn, and Robert S. Anderson.