• Mário C. C. de Pinna

    1. Department of Ichthyology, American Museum of Natural History, Central Park West at 79th Street, New York, NY 10024, U.S.A. and Department of Biology, City College, CUNY, New York, New York 10031, U.S.A.
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Abstract— Logical equivalence between the notions of homology and synapomorphy is reviewed and supported. So-called transformational homology embodies two distinct logical components, one related to comparisons among different organisms and the other restricted to comparisons within the same organism. The former is essentially hierarchical in nature, thus being in fact a less obvious form of taxic homology. The latter is logically equivalent to so-called serial homology in a broad sense (including homonomy, mass homology or iterative homology). Of three tests of homology proposed to date (similarity, conjunction and congruence) only congruence serves as a test in the strict sense. Similarity stands at a basic level in homology propositions, being the source of the homology conjecture in the first place. Conjunction is unquestionably an indicator of non-homology, but it is not specific about the pairwise comparison where non-homology is present, and depends on a specific scheme of relationship in order to refute a hypothesis of homology. The congruence test has been previously seen as an application of compatibility analysis. However, congruence is more appropriately seen as an expression of strict parsimony analysis. A general theoretical solution is proposed to determine evolution of characters with ambiguous distributions, based on the notion of maximization of homology propositions. According to that notion, ambiguous character-state distributions should be resolved by an optimization that maximizes reversals relative to parallelisms. Notions of homology in morphology and molecular biology are essentially the same. The present tendency to adopt different terminologies for the two sources of data should be avoided, in order not to obscure the fundamental uniformity of the concept of homology in comparative biology.

“A similar hierarchy is found both in ‘structures’ and in ‘functions’. In the last resort, structure (i.e. order of parts) and function (order of processes) may be the very same thing […].”

L. von Bertalanlfy

“[…] it is the fact that certain criteria enable us to match parts of things consistently which suggests that mechanisms of certain kinds must have been involved in their origin.”

N. Jardine and C. Jardine