P. Z. is after cats again

June 11, 2011 • 10:49 am

I swear, my blog-pal Dr. Myers is starting to act like a Rosenau, taking out after yours truly at every opportunity.  Today he’s seen fit to make yet anotherAnti-Caturday post,” even though he got badly pwned when he tried to do that before.  This time he compares the awesomeness of “fungi” (more on that in a second) with the boring-ness of cats.  After all, “fungi” can grow and fruit, and, as P.Z. notes “No cat can compare.”  Well, I have yet to see a “fungus” sit in my lap and purr.

P.Z. then adds a bunch of lascivious words relating “fungi” to sex, ending with a mauvais mot that I can’t repeat on a family-oriented website.

Why did I put “fungi” in quotes?  Because much of what appears in P.Z.’s demonstration video is not fungi, but slime molds.  And slime molds aren’t fungi—they are now considered protists (or a lineage that branched off close to other protists), no more closely related to fungi than to cats.  They may even be polyphyletic, but still none of them are closely related to fungi.  Here’s where they lie, roughly, on the tree of life:

I guess P.Z.’s been too busy going to atheist meetings to keep up with biology!

45 thoughts on “P. Z. is after cats again

  1. Great family tree graphic. I’ll post that on my facebook page with the status “Cleaning my bathroom”.

  2. “Well, I have yet to see a “fungus” sit in my lap and purr”.

    Due to your exemplary moral lifestyle, no doubt.

  3. I guess P.Z.’s been too busy going to atheist meetings to keep up with biology!

    Exhibit A: out atheism turns people off of evolution.

    “NAism” is doomed.

  4. Doesn’t he show mushrooms later on in his video? Therefore, you’re only half-pwning him? Is this just a readership stunt? Anyway!

  5. Coyne has the ball on the half-way line, he’s past the first defender, slips by the second, nutmegs the third, he shoots – HE SCORES! And PZ’s defence was nowhere!

      1. @Ant Allan–You’d like the book I am presently reading “The Pun Also Rises: How the Humble Pun Revolutionized Language, Changed History, and Made Wordplay More Than Some Antics” by John Pollack.

  6. My goodness, is the current hypothesis of relationship of animals, fungi and plants really an unresolved trichotomy?

    1. Nope, tree is 20 years out of date and fundamentally flawed, and no one should be using it anymore.

      For a better euk tree, see Keeling et al. 2005 Tr Ecol Evol, which is already 6 years out of date — I have my own version on my blog which is a bit more up to date, but not without errors.

      While animals and fungi form a strong clade (with some stuff in-between), plants are on the other side of a very deep fundamental split within the eukaryotes.

        1. The bush doesn’t apply to eukaryotes — while LGT still happens there, there is more than enough signal for a tree to ultimately be resolved, at least in theory. I don’t buy the bush thing for bacteria either but that’s a different argument best saved for another day… 😉

          Sorry I was typing in a rush on a public computer, but here’s the link to Keeling et al. 2005: http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_FeaU01D-3wI/SSiu5GVthjI/AAAAAAAAAQ0/yyHXmkuvGZc/s1600-h/Eukaryote+tree+keeling+2005.jpg
          (paper pdf:http://www.botany.ubc.ca/keeling/PDF/05ToE.pdf)

          And to my tree (a bit over a year out of date, will release new version SOON): http://skepticwonder.fieldofscience.com/2010/03/tree-of-eukaryotes-v12.html

          The tree you posted is indeed better, though still out of date: Rhizaria is now with the “Chromalveolates” (Stramenopiles + Alveolates, no longer including Crypotmonads and Haptophytes) — the chromists are no more, and thus chromalveolate are also no more. Haptophytes and Cryptomonads have for some time formed their own supergroup at the base of Rhizara+Strameno+alveolates, the “Hacrobia” (Okamoto et al. 2009 PLoS ONE: http://www.botany.ubc.ca/keeling/PDF/09RoombiaPLOS.pdf), but the final fate of that group remains to be determined… 😉

          While the deep branches are not ‘solidified’ yet by any means, I think the most likely deep relationships based on current data are:
          Strameno+Alv+RhiZ clade, sister to Archaeplastids/”Plantae”, then probably all that sister to Excavates (might be paraphyletic, who knows…), forming a MASSIVE clade of eukaryotes called Bikonts. The Amoebozoans and Opisthokonts (incl Fungi and Animals — our home) form a pretty strong clade called Unikonts, and are sister to the Bikonts.

          That’s probably more than you wanted to know about the euk tree… 😉

    2. yikes! was my reaction too. And what the hell are ciliates doing there?
      Dianne’s link is good regarding animals, fungi, slime molds (all unikonts) vs. fundamentally different deep branches containing plants and (elsewhere) ciliates.

  7. Jerry, Where is your sense of humor?

    It’s tongue-in-cheek.

    Re-read his posting: “No one would ever look at a pussy and think of sex.”

  8. Hi
    Nice ribosomal phylogeny from Woese. But is wrong in some parts. In the eukaryotes the microsporidians arenow know to be true fungi and were placed in a early diverging position due to long-branch atractions. There is no such think as flagellates (as a group).
    With better sampling we now know that there is no such kingdom as “protists” but several key groups that are ‘kingdoms or superkingdom’ and animals and true fungi (not slime molds” are in the same superkingdom. And to a protistologist lack impressive genetic divergence.

  9. THAT TREE IS SO OUTDATED AND WRONG, particularly for eukaryotes! Please, people, STOP using it to demonstrate any kind of phylogenetic relationships!!!

    Otherwise, why are my friends working so damn hard to sort out the tree of eukaryotes if y’all are gonna use some 20yr outdated artefact-ridden maximum parsimony SSU tree anyway?! /rant

    1. Point us to the latest one! Anyway, what I want to know is whether I was right to say to my partner that she is more related to a mushroom than a mushroom is to a plant. That’s still true, right?

      1. There’s a major summary in Keeling et al. 2005, but it’s a bit out of date now: http://www.botany.ubc.ca/keeling/PDF/05ToE.pdf

        [shameless self-promotion] I have a non-formally-peer-reviewed tree on my blog; it’s slightly out of date now but I’m gonna be releasing an updated (and fixed!) version sometime SOON. Watch this space: http://skepticwonder.fieldofscience.com/search/label/Tree%20of%20Eukaryotes [/shameless self-promotion]

        You can also tell your wife she’s more closely related to an amoeba than either to a plant 😉

  10. People should make a point AT ATHEIST MEETINGS to mock PZ to his face, shout forced laughter at him, and call him “pwned,” “fungi-confused,” and the like.

  11. I agree. Fungi don’t sit in one’s lap and purr.

    However, cats don’t make beer.

    Slime molds, as interesting as they are, don’t do either.

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