Suprageneric Names & TAXONOMY'S FUTURE

Ken Kinman kinman at HOTMAIL.COM
Mon Nov 24 08:32:31 CST 1997

     Since a modified Linnaean classification system that solves such
problems was introduced in 1994, it is really a shame that so much time
must be spent on such matters (SEE BELOW).  As for the specific case at
hand (using -ina as the ending for rankless suprageneric taxa), I would
agree with the general sentiment thus far expressed that another ending
(perhaps more unique) would be appropriate.  Nomenclature is going to be
a very "MESSY" business for a long time to come, and debates like this
will continue to distract us from the real tasks at hand in systematic
biology.  I am not criticizing the proposal at hand (except for the
specific ending proposed), but it does serve as an example of why I did
what I did in 1994.
     This is just one example of the UNDESIRABLE DISTRACTIONS that
plague biosystematics.  I introduced the Kinman System in my 1994
reference book (The Kinman System: Toward A Stable Cladisto-Eclectic
Classification of Organisms...; bibliographic information available on
OCLC or WorldCat database of the Library of Congress)
in an effort to make "the ultimate goal of a stable information
retrieval system... more attainable, and biological research more
productive and efficient."
     The Kinman System is a modified (and in some ways simplified)
Linnean system, and I would like to quote a relevant section (2
paragraphs) from the Introduction of my 1994 book:
     "LIMITIATION ON CATEGORIES.  As our knowledge of organisms
increases, our classifications grow larger, both in numbers of taxa and
the categories used to order them.  The recent growth of cladistics
(phylogenetic systematics) has resulted in a large increase in
intermediate categories and names to fill them.  There seems to be
little agreement on what to call these categories and what ending should
be employed for each.  Above family group level, such classifications
often become complex, confusing, and inherently unstable as well.  Some
workers have abandoned categories altogether.
     Since the basic categories (Kingdom, Phylum, Class, Order, Family),
and the names filling them, are relatively stable, they have been
retained, and the intermediate categories are replaced by a coding
system described in Appendix I.  This code can represent the
relationships between taxa on any level in any classification, cladistic
or otherwise, and can be easily modified to represent new and better
classifications, but with little or no need to create new names or
categories.  Thus informational content (including anagenetic
information) is preserved, while problems, such as the multiplicity of
names and categories, hierarchical instability, etc., are minimized.
Since the code will absorb most of the changes resulting from future
knowledge, workers who only need to classify can ignore the code and be
content with a simpler and more stable Linnean hierarchy.  Those of us
primarily interested in evolutionary relationships many continue our
debates, and although our code sequences may vary dramatically, the
basic classification will remain amazingly stable.  Because the Kinman
System synergistically unifies the best from cladistic and eclectic
methods, stability and progress can successfully coexist!!!"
     I am convinced that such a system is our only hope for a
universally acceptable type of classification system, and the only way
the Linnean classification system can survive.  Otherwise it will limp
along and die a slow, tortuous death in the decades to come.  I began
devising this system in the 1970's, so I have put a great deal of
thought and work into it and making improvements.  Without it, I believe
systematics will see a continued decline in the stability and utility of
                                            Kenneth E. Kinman
                                            P.O. Box 1377
                                            Hays, Kansas  67601
                 e-mail:  kinman at
                   or     kinman at

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