Evolving Thoughts

An ancient cladogram

As I investigate the use of tree diagrams in the nineteenth century, I keep running across things that shouldn’t be there. One of them was this book:

Herdman, William Abbott. 1885. A Phylogenetic Classification of Animals (For the Use of Students). London; Liverpool: Macmillan & Co.; Adam Holden.

It’s on Archive.org, but they didn’t properly scan the figure on the foldout (a real problem of the electronic versions of old books is that they don’t scan the foldout figures. Imagine the Origin without the one figure). So I bought a copy. It’s a real revelation – he correctly uses “polyphyletic” in its modern sense on page 2. So below the fold is the figure and the caption, with a link to a larger version to download.

Of interest is that Herdman is mixing phylogeny with grades – the vertical axis represents “advance in structure”, whatever that might mean. It’s not cladism yet…

i-966f09c1b754681798c30235950a628a-sc00be357d-small.jpg i-b5014e04a13821b8c67ff239955a3050-sc00be9ef0text.jpg Large version

Comments

  1. #1 Sven DiMilo
    April 30, 2009

    wow.
    It’s engrossing, like an old map.

  2. #2 Coturnix
    April 30, 2009

    Wow! 1885!

  3. #3 Roberto Keller
    April 30, 2009

    It is truly an incredible find. If you had just posted the reference, I would have thought the 1885 date was mistyped from 1985. The downward slope to indicate degeneration is a nice touch.

    You bought yourself a copy? A facsimile?

  4. #4 John S. Wilkins
    April 30, 2009

    An echt copy. Lacking only the back cover and spine…

  5. #5 Laelaps
    April 30, 2009

    What a wonderful find, John!

  6. #6 David Marjanović
    May 1, 2009

    Actually, the quality of the foldout in the scan is almost as good as that of your scan. In general, I’m amazed at how they managed to get that file down to 5.2 MB. I suppose all sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic…

  7. #7 Thony C.
    May 1, 2009

    Actually, the quality of the foldout in the scan is almost as good as that of your scan.

    DUH!!?

    Have you looked at the large version of John’s scan, David?

  8. #8 fvngvs
    May 1, 2009

    John,

    You just go out and buy 1885 texts? If you have a long-term habit of doing this, I really want to see what’s on the rest of your bookshelves!

  9. #9 John S. Wilkins
    May 1, 2009

    I used to tell my then wife: “It’s cheaper than fishing”. I have a 19thC book habit.

  10. #10 John S. Wilkins
    May 1, 2009

    David is right – if you download the PDF the image is high quality. I saw only another version without the good foldout.

  11. #11 Ian Musgrave
    May 1, 2009

    Fantastic find John, its interesting how we can find things in history that are almost modern, and then there are these other touches. Ever read Kepler’s Correspondence with Galileo? Kepler sounds like a lunatic in some sections.

  12. #12 Thony C.
    May 2, 2009

    David is right – if you download the PDF the image is high quality. I saw only another version without the good foldout.

    I apologise unreservedly to David; I didn’t even realise that the text is downloadable and in the version posted on the website the diagram at the back of the book is unreadable.

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