Hello everyone! My name is Mu (no relation) and I’ve been an avid reader of the Piss List for years. I’m a little bit of a news junkie so I reach for the List every morning to stay up to date with the world of what’s good and not good according to Lou. I was honored and flattered to be invited to write a guest post, so I figured I’d pick something to talk about that’s as informative as we’ve come to expect from our favorite periodical, but also on a topic everyone loves. While not everyone is a big fan of the creepy-crawly snake, the big tent of class Reptilia has something even the most squeamish person could love. My pick for “Mu” of the Week is going to this fantastic group of animals that we all know as…reptiles!
This little guy is Chamaeleo zeylanicus, an Indian chameleon! He can change his skin color to blend in with his surroundings. Pretty wild! Chameleons are an awesome example of a reptile, not a sauropsid.
Here’s the classic ball python, Python regius. This famous reptile is also not a sauropsid. They may be cute, but they are carnivorous and make dinner out of anything from small scurrying mice to large soaring birds!
Everyone loves a common green iguana, Iguana iguana! This reptile is known for its playful antics and fun “beard”-like skin flap. What’s he doing up there? Haha. Imagine if you had to call him a sauropsid.
Last but not least is the incredible African Bullfrog, Pyxicephalus adspersus, native to Africa. Pretty cute, right? Wait a minute, that’s not a reptile! Did I catch you? Frogs are actually amphibians, not reptiles, because they lay their eggs in water. They also aren’t sauropsids either 😀!
That was a fun look at some of my favorite reptiles (and one imposter 😀), but the sad part of the story is that there is a group of rogue “zoologists” who’d like to obliterate our scaly friends from the face of the planet because of a
stupid moronic misguided new direction in taxonomy: cladistics.
Wow, that sounds pretty disgusting, doesn’t it? Like something an evil freak would say. You can almost imagine how their slimy tongue would flick off their wet lips as they spit that word at you. And you thought snakes were creepy! Yes, the Piss of the Week is sadly going to the herpetologists from Hell; the pedants of paleontology; the taxonomic terrorists flying the Boeing 767 of cladistics into the Twin Towers of phylogenetic nomenclature. So what the heck do these perverts want to do to our beloved reptiles!?
Here’s a classic phylogenetic tree that you’re all familiar with, beginning at Amniota, which would branch off towards the mammals in Synapsids and towards the reptiles in Reptilia.
What a clean, neat tree, right? You’d show that to a cladist and they’d say, “well that about wraps up my job, I guess I’d better switch careers to something I’m more suited to, like toilet janitor, court jester, clown, dog’s lunch, place where dog would go to the bathroom, etc.,” right? WRONG!!! They’d say those reptiles are SAUROPSIDS. “WAhhh Reptilia is a paraphyetic group 😭😩 Ouuuhhhhuu it includes bird and turtles waahhh”!! SHUT UP!!!!! Somewhere in their fucked-up little brains they miss all the perfectly organized branches and see clades. What the fuck is a “clade”??? That sounds like a 9-year-old who gets kicked off the Little League team for peeing on your son.
Close! It’s a monophyletic group, meaning it’s an organism and all its descendants. So, cladist, how do you tell who’s a descendant of what? “Why, you check how many holes it has in its skull! [disgusting sounds a medical idiot would make]” Oh okay, sure man. Why don’t you call it temporal fenestration or something stupid like that. Here’s a stupid chart for morons of what that would look like:
What would you do if someone said they wanted to rewrite all of reptile taxonomy based on the skull holes. What if they said all the zoos and museums need to rename their reptile areas to sauropsid zones. What would you do if your child said to you, “daddy, daddy! Let’s go look at the sauropsid exhibit!”? I’ll tell you what I’d do: I’d dropkick that kid into the fucking Sun. You sound like a loser nerd and you’re not my child.
Here’s some exemplary work of cladistics: they’ve discovered that bird skulls look sort of like lizards’, which means you can throw them both in one of their fucking clades:
Well slap me on the goddamn ass and call me the male babysitter your inattentive parents left you alone with—you’ve made me switch teams. This is an image of a close evolutionary relative of the modern bird. I have an IQ that would shatter winter low temperature records in Northern Siberia. Yeah, right [I’m doing the jerk off thing with my hand]. I think your “monophyletic” group is looking pretty poly there, buddy. It looks so poly I think it might have a Tumblr account. Speaking of perverts, you know who classified that T. rex? A British piece of SHIT named Henry Fairfield Osborne, a paleontologist and advocate of EUGENICS. WHOOPS!!!!!!!!! DID YOU DO A WACISM??/ DID YOU MAKE A LITTLE FUCKSIE WUCKSIE????? Yeah you did you dead bitch and your whole taxonomy is chump!!
Are you scared now motherfucker?? Do you know what I have behind my back??? It’s TURTLES AND BIRDS. Oh does that completely fuck up your whole shit????? Here’s a turtle skull, do you see any temporal fenestra??
NOPE!!!!!! THAT”S ALL ANAPSID BABY!!!!! I’M SURE YOU CAN SLIDE THAT RIGHT INTO YOUR LITTLE TREE. BUT I SEE A LITTLE HOMOPLASTIC BEAK EVOLVING, DOES THAT SOUND LIKE A MONOPHYLETIC GROUP HAVING COMMON ANCESTRY WITH DINOSAURIA ?? I THINK NOT YOU SIMPLE BITCH. SOUNDS LIKE OVEREMPHASIS ON
FOSSILIZED TAXA RISKS MISCLASSIFICATION OF CONVERGENTLY EVOLVED—OR POLYPHYLETIC—LINEAGES AS MONOPHYLETIC GROUPS, BUT WHEN MOLECULAR AND MORPHOLOGICAL DATA ARE COMBINED THE RESULTING TREE IS OVERWHELMINGLY SUPPORTED BY BAYESIAN AND PARSIMONY ANALYSIS IN THE CASE OF RESOLVING OUTSTANDING COMPLICATIONS OF SQUAMATE REPTILE PHYLOGENY, FOr example (Reeder et al., 2015). However, the converse also seems to be true. Recent miRNA analyses—or, consulting the molecular clock—have claimed to recover Testudines as a sister group of archosaurs as opposed to lepidosaurs, despite both these groups falling under clade Diapsida (Field et al., 2014). The point is moot because, following the established pattern of classification largely based on temporal fenestration (Camp, 1923), morphological analysis of a Testudines skull clearly reflects Anapsida ancestry, possibly suggesting Parareptilia lineage (Laurin & Reisz, 1995). Other recent attempts at molecular phylogeny of turtles have conceded that lepidosaur ancestry—and Diapsida more broadly—is contested by both morphological and molecular methods (Hedges & Poling, 1999).
Laurin, M., & Reisz, R. R. (1995). A reevaluation of early amniote phylogeny. Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society, 113(2), 165–223. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1096-3642.1995.tb00932.x
Reeder, T. W., Townsend, T. M., Mulcahy, D. G., Noonan, B. P., Wood, P. L., Sites, J. W., & Wiens, J. J. (2015). Integrated analyses resolve conflicts over squamate reptile phylogeny and reveal unexpected placements for fossil taxa. PLoS ONE, 10(3), 1–22. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0118199
Blair Hedges, S., & Poling, L. L. (1999). A molecular phylogeny of reptiles. Science, 283(5404), 998–1001. https://doi.org/10.1126/science.283.5404.998
Field, D. J., Gauthier, J. A., King, B. L., Pisani, D., Lyson, T. R., & Peterson, K. J. (2014). Toward consilience in reptile phylogeny: MiRNAs support an archosaur, not lepidosaur, affinity for turtles. Evolution and Development, 16(4), 189–196. https://doi.org/10.1111/ede.12081
Camp, L. (1923). Classification of the Lizards. Bulletin of the American Museum of Natural History, 48, 289–481.