On homology

Cladistics. 2012 Apr;28(2):160-169. doi: 10.1111/j.1096-0031.2011.00371.x. Epub 2011 Sep 8.


Homology in cladistics is reviewed. The definition of important terms is explicated in historical context. Homology is not synonymous with synapomorphy: it includes symplesiomorphy, and Hennig clearly included both plesiomorphy and synapomorphy as types of homology. Homoplasy is error, in coding, and is analogous to residual error in simple regression. If parallelism and convergence are to be distinguished, homoplasy would be evidence of the former and analogy evidence of the latter. We discuss whether there is a difference between molecular homology and morphological homology, character state homology, nested homology (additive characters), and serial homology. We conclude by proposing a global definition of homology. ©The Will Henning Society 2011.

Publication types

  • Letter