Capybaras was Re: multiple classification systems

John C. Kingston kingston at USGS.GOV
Wed Jun 18 08:26:26 CDT 1997

Newfoundland fisherman (and their politicians) have known for centuries that one can be involved in:
lobster fishery
seal fishery
whale fishery
sea urchin fishery
but one goes fishing for fish (Atlantic Cod) and
trouting for trout (Brook Trout)

Ya' got me raftered, me son,

--John Kingston

From:  Curtis Clark[SMTP:jcclark at CSUPOMONA.EDU]
Sent:  Tuesday, June 17, 1997 5:23 PM
To:  Multiple recipients of list TAXACOM
Subject:  Capybaras was Re: multiple classification systems

At 12:08 PM 06/17/97 +1000, John Trueman wrote:
>Re Barbara Ertter's example:
>>the historical fact of an early Pope declaring that capybara are "fish" for
>>the purpose of Friday abstinence from meat. This seems nonsensical to us ...
>... and merely as an aside:
>To a biologist this should not seem nonsensical at all.  What is a human if
>not a scaleless, bipedal, terrestrial fish?

Ah, but to a cladist the fascinating part is not that the Pope declared
cabyparas to be fish, but rather that he excluded chickens, ducks, cows,
sheep, and pigs. :-)

Curtis Clark             
Biological Sciences Department                     Voice: (909) 869-4062
California State Polytechnic University, Pomona    FAX:   (909) 869-4078
Pomona CA 91768-4032  USA                          jcclark at

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