About Us: Taxonomic Concepts and Methods
We believe that phylogenetic discontinuity is obvious for most
groups approximating the family level and higher categories. Therefore,
baraminology sees multidimensional biological character space
crisscrossed with a network of discontinuities that circumscribe
islands of biological diversity. Within these character space islands,
the basic morpho-molecular forms are continuous or potentially
continuous. Discontinuity in this sense does not refer to either the
minor breaks in quantitative ranges that are used to delimit species or
the modifications on a basic theme that demarcate genera. It is the
unbridged chasms between body plans - forms for which there is no
empirical evidence that the character-state transformations ever
occurred. The mere assumption that the transformation had to occur
because cladistic analysis places it at a hypothetical ancestral node
does not constitute empirical evidence.
The baramin concept,
as recently refined (Wood et al, 2003), includes all the organisms in a
single bounded region of biological character space. This concept is a
theoretical construct intentionally left fluid, as it is unlikely all
members (all past ancestors and present descendants) can actually be
known. However, four other terms (with baramin as a root) are used to apply the concept to sets of known organisms:
- A holobaramin
is the complete set of known organisms that belong to a single baramin.
In other words, it is a group that (1) shares continuity (meaning that
each member is continuous with at least on other member) and (2) is
bounded by discontinuity. This is the empirical approximation of the
- A monobaramin is a group
of known species that share continuity without regard to discontinuity
with other organisms. That is, it may be either part or all of a
- An apobaramin is a group of known
species that are bounded by discontinuity without regard to internal
continuity. That is, it may be one or more complete holobaramins.
- A polybaramin
is an artificial group of known species that share continuity with
organisms outside the group and discontinuity occurs within the group.
That is, it consists (through faulty analysis) parts of two or more
holobaramins and should be avoided, as it is comparable to a
polyphyletic taxon in conventional systematics.
groups are not taxonomic ranks but approximations of the "created
kinds" or "created biodiversity units". From the definitions, it is
clear that a given conventional taxon may be thought of as a
monobaramin, a holobaramin, or an apobaramin, depending on the
available data supporting either continuity or discontinuity among its
members. For example, if diverse species can hybridize (at least in the
laboratory), they exhibit continuity and they are members of the same
monobaramin. On the other hand, mammals, which are characterized by a
unique yet varied body plan, are probably discontinuous from other
vertebrates and comprise an apobaramin. If data exist that support both
internal continuity and a boundary of discontinuity, the taxon would be
a holobaramin. Thus, as more information becomes available, a
monobaramin may become a holobaramin or an apobaramin may become a
Thus, the method of baraminology is successive
approximation. Baraminology provides the framework for membership
criteria through its emphasis on additive and subtractive evidence (see
below). Additive evidence is used to establish that two species are
truly related (members of the same monobaramin). Subtractive evidence
is used to show that two groups of species are not related (different
apobaramins). By building up a monobaramin by additive evidence and
dividing out unrelated species from the larger apobaramin, the
holobaramin should be converged on when the membership of the growing
monobaramin and shrinking apobaramin are the same. See Wood and Murray 2003.
Major Additive Criteria:
- Succesful interspecific hybridization.
If members of two different species can successfully hybridize, they
share genetic and morphogenetic programs and are, thus, holistically
continuous. Although Marsh (see historical context)
relied on hybridization as the single method of identifying which
species were members of the same baramin, the problems with using
hybridization as the exclusive baraminic membership criterion are many.
Asexually reproducing species and species known only from fossils are
impossible to classify using hybridization. Even among sexual species,
failure to hybridize may be due to other causes than discontinuity.
- Morpho-molecular similarity.
Are the natural and artificially hybridized forms linked by overlapping
quantitative measures, by character-state transitions in which all the
states are observable in known and otherwise similar organisms, or by a
homoplastic distribution (recombination) of redundant character states
among similar organism? A statistical measure has been developed called
Baraminic Distance (BD). A positive correlation of BD is interpreted as evidence of continuity of two organisms.
- Stratomorphic Series.
Stratigraphic fossil series connected by clear character-state
transitions are evidence of continuity. For example, fossil and modern
equids qualify as a monobaramin (see Cavanaugh et al. 2003).
Major Subtractive Criteria:
- Scripture claims discontinuity.
This should be concluded only after completion of a semantic and
contextual study of relevant words and passages. Clear examples are
that Scripture claims humans to be an apobaramin and that cetaceans are
discontinuous from land mammals (i.e., each created on separate days).
- Morpho-molecular dissimilarity.
Are the natural and hybridized forms within the group separated from
organisms outside the group by gaps that are significantly greater than
intra-group differences? A negative correlation of BD is evidence of
- Unique synapomorphies.
Is the group circumscribed by a set of unique morphologies or molecular
sequences? These synapomorphies should lack empirically observed
transitions to states in other supposedly related but outside groups.
- Lack of fossil intermediates.
That is, there is no known fossil ancestral group, and fossils with
"ancestral states" or "states transitional to other groups" are
unknown. Forms identifiable in Flood sediments were probably distinct
from the time of creation. A good example is Archaeopteryx, which likely represents its own unique baramin, distinct from both dinosaurs and modern birds.