In a previous post, I showed my second-favorite phylogeny. Well, here’s my favorite one, posted on the wall outside my lab.
Not that you can really see any details in this picture, but you get the idea: it’s big. It has about 600 species of Bembidion and related genera. That’s also a maximum likelihood bootstrap tree based on seven genes, and you can see that it is pretty well resolved – there are very few polytomies. This tree gives me so much pleasure because it tells me so much about the history of this group of beetles, and because there are so many things that make sense in light of it.
I’ll share some details about the tree later, but for now I would direct your attention to the caption under the tree. I didn’t add that caption; it mysteriously appeared one day, like a gift-wrapped present under a sparkling tree. I really, really like it. Here’s what it says:
I have no idea who wrote it.
It would be very amusing to have that as the caption in the journal article when the phylogeny gets published.
The implicit comment on relativism is incisive. No label is any closer to the origin than any other; all stand in cacophonous relation, equal and yet opposing. This is more than postmodern, this is post(post).
Sometimes even the artist himself does not fully appreciate the depth of the piece. Speaking of depth, one might also note that the deeper branches are clearly pre-modern, in which case one might also consider the colorful labels as post(post)-premodern. In fact, echoing of posts and pres in the image reverberates to create something outside of the bounds of time.