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The taxonomy and ecology of the mobile telephone.

The taxonomy and ecology of the mobile telephone.

By David Hall
Bristol University, UK.


The mobile ‘phone has evolved rapidly over the last 30 years, but unlike many organisms where this morphogenesis is lost in the sands of time, a complete record of this evolution has been documented in society and in the literature.


Outward appearance

Telephonium mobilus (Ericsson 1876) fundamentally differs from its more primitive ancestor (T. cordata) in that it has become completely independent - a factor crucial to it’s spread and subsequent speciation. This has led to the loss of spiral leads (akin to the umbilical cord in human babies) and other wires from this species. They vary tremendously in size, but evolution seems to be pointing towards a further decrease in body size, perhaps linked to costs of transportation and reduction in host pocket size over the last 20 years (Urabe & Nojima 1996; Anon 1997). There is a hard exoskeleton observable in all morphs, although while some have a single body section, others are articulated: This adaptation may be an advanced modification and one linked to defence (see below). All morphs have distinctive phenotypic patterning on one side of the body, in a numerical style that is thought to be relat