“Now where’s the LRT?”

This funny meme popped up on Facebook recently.
FB memes that involve both clade names and the large reptile tree (LRT) are so rare and esoteric that this may be the first and only time such a combination will ever appear. Unfortunately, the target audience for this meme didn’t get the joke until it was explained online (see below).

Figure 1. From the FB account of professor of geology and paleontology Donald Prothero. Image sent to him from fellow paleontologist, Daniel Chure, retired, Dinosaur National Monument.

The setup for this esoteric joke
sent by retired paleontologist, Daniel Chure, had its genesis in Prothero et al. 2021, who wrote, The name “Cetartiodactyla” was proposed in 1997 to reflect the molecular data that suggested that Cetacea is closely related to Artiodactyla. Since then, that taxon has spread in popularity, even outside the scientific literature. However, the implications of the name are confusing, because Cetacea and Artiodactyla are not sister-taxa.Instead, the evidence clearly shows that cetaceans are a group embedded within Artiodactyla, not a sister-taxon of equal rank.”

Adding a punchline of even more esoteric humor,
when more taxa are added the traditional clade Cetacea ceases to be monophyletic and was never embedded within Artiodactyla. Ba-dum…chhhh.

Prothero et al. (15 co-authors) 2021. On the Unnecessary and Misleading Taxon “Cetartiodactyla”. Journal of Mammalian Evolution. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10914-021-09572-7


5 thoughts on ““Now where’s the LRT?”

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