Useful Animalia revisited.

Timothy S. Ross rosst at CGS.EDU
Tue Jan 16 19:01:37 CST 1996

        As I was driving home last night, I got to thinking again about the
classification scheme that was discussed on TAXACOM a few weeks back
relating to Animals:  those that are Useful; those are are Useless; and
those that are Dangerous.  I don't recall who is credited with this
classification scheme, but I believe it was some in-bred, heavily armed
        As with all classification schemes that we tend to recognize, this
taxonomy is purely a human construct meant to categorize some element of
perceived diversity.  There were some problems that kept nagging at me and
seemed to suggest weaknesses in this taxonomic structure.  For example, I
consider Homo sapiens to be an animal, and yet, by including Homo sapiens
in this classification scheme, the whole construct kept breaking down.  I'm
sure that if the creator of this taxonomy had thought far enough ahead to
include Homo sapiens in the scheme, then H. sapiens would by divinely
inspired default have been classified among the Useful Animalia.
        However, H. sapiens is highly variable and numerous specimens would
have to be placed elsewhere.  Examination of newspaper stories or the
evening news reveal brief profiles of incredibly violent specimens (Homo
sapiens var. perniciosus) which would have to be placed in the Dangerous
Animalia.  Likewise, reports out of Washington D.C. give clear evidence
that the majority of specimens populating the Senate and the House of
Representatives are Homo sapiens var. inutilis, and would have to be
classified as Useless Animalia.  [I should note that there is some
taxonomic disagreement here; a few researchers believe that these
congressional specimens actually represent Neanderthals or Cro Magnons.
I'm a little reluctant to accept this assessment, because there is a poorly
understood mutualism (presumably intraspecific) between these specimens and
H. sapiens var. antienvironmentalis and/or H. sapiens var. profitigerens.]
        The more I thought about this classification scheme, the weaker it
became.  If perchance Homo sapiens is NOT classified within this otherwise
useful scheme, what is the designation for this taxon?  Have any of these
issues been dealt with in the literature?
        Just curious...
                                        -- Tim.

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