Don’t blame me! “Surely,” I said, “everyone knows all about cladistics and the multitude of computer programs out there by now?” “Oh no,” says our Editor, “there are parts of the palaeontological community where cladistic drums do not reach; there are nooks and crannies, fault lines, sink holes and caves where the words synapomorphy, paraphyly and parsimony have never been heard.” Well – you could have knocked me down with a feather: all too easy now since many were attached to bloody great dinosaurs – sorry – non-avian archosaurs. “What is needed,” Editor says, “is a simple walk through cladistic analysis, explaining the background theory and giving us the low-down on what the programs are doing and why – you’re retired now – all the time in the world – you can bang it out before you go for your bus pass.” OK, better than cleaning the car, I guess!
So here it is – cladistics in six easy sessions (Introduction, Characters, Tree building, Optimisation, tree support and consensus, Missing values and Stratigraphy). I will emphasise the PAUP computer program in the relevant articles because this is the most comprehensive and widely available.