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Not deconstructing serial homology, but instead, the a priori assumption that it generally involves ancestral anatomical similarity: An answer to Kuznetsov's paper

Oct 1, 2020

I am very thankful to Kuznetsov for his comments on our recent paper about serial structures published in this journal. I hope this is just the beginning of a much wider, and holistic, discussion on the evolution of serial homologous structures, and of so‐called “serial structures” in general, whether they are truly serial homologs or the secondary result of homoplasy. Strangely, Kuznetsov seems to have missed the main point of our paper, what is particularly puzzling as this point is clearly made in the very title of our paper. For instance, he states that “Siomava et al. claim that the serial homologues are false because they are ancestrally anisomeric (dissimilar)' and that” Siomava et al., (Siomava et al., Journal of Morphology, 2020, 281, 1110–1132) expected that if serial homology was true, then the serial homologs would be identical at the start and then only diverge. “ However, our paper clearly did not state this. Instead, we stated that (a) serial homology is a real phenomenon, and (b) ancestral dissimilarity is actually likely the norm, and not the exception, within serial homology. In particular, our paper showed that, as clearly stated in its title and abstract, within the evolution of serial homologues these structures “many times display trends toward less similarity while in many others display trends toward more similarity, that is, one cannot say that there is a clear, overall trend to anisomerism.” Serial homology is therefore a genuine and much widespread phenomenon within the evolution of life in this planet. It is clearly one of the most important issues—and paradoxically one of the less understood, precisely because of the a priori acceptance of long‐standing assumptions that have never been empirically tested, some of them repeated in Kuznetsov's paper—within macroevolution and comparative anatomy.

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