new "coded" classifications

Ken Kinman kinman at HOTMAIL.COM
Mon Jan 11 16:26:48 CST 1999

Don McAllister wrote (on Jan. 8):
>>>>>So why not keep the conventional taxonomic units and just show all
the branching points in a detailed cladogram?  When fine-level
predictiveness or other qualities of relationship were required one
could refer to a given cladogram.
Dear Don and Taxacomers,
       So glad you asked, Don.  Besides the Kinman markers for
semi-paraphyletic groups, there is another important element of the
Kinman System that addresses this very question, but is superior to and
more useful than requiring a separate cladogram (SEE EXAMPLE BELOW).
      The coding system I have developed is a simple alpha-numeric one,
with one letter or number placed two spaces to the left of the taxon
being coded.  The main code is cladistically-oriented, with separate
eclectic codes (underlined numbers or letters) when semi-paraphyletic
groups are desirable.  Clearly, I am not anti-cladist, I'm just not a
strict cladist.  And with the Kinman System, noone has to put up with
the disadvantages of strictly cladistic classifications any more or the
ambiguities of traditional eclectic ones.
      Quite simply, this code stores information on how the taxa are
related, so no separate cladogram is really needed.  It's clean,
concise, and compact.  This approach was so successful that was able to
eliminate unneeded intermediate categories (and all the new ones
cladistics may have generated).   These classifications are uncluttered
and easy to read, and since the code is in one column to the left of the
taxa, all of those biologists who don't need to know all the details of
how taxa are interrelated----all they have to do is ignore the code, and
they are left with a relatively stable classification.  Most changes
that will be needed (due to new knowledge) will be changes to the code,
not to the taxonomy.  In effect, I have partially decoupled
interelationship information from the formal nomenclature.   A simple,
abbreviated example follows:
                    KINGDOM METAZOA
  1  Porifera (sponges, archaeocyaths, and allies.....)
       1  Hyalospongea (glass sponges....)
       2  Calcispongea (chalky sponges....)
       3  Demospongea (demosponges and sclerosponges...)
       4  Archaeocyathea (the Cambrian archaeocyaths)
  2  Placozoa (trichoplacoids; only 1 or 2 living sp.)
  3  Cnidaria (cnidarians; 9,200 living species)
  B  Petalonamata (Precambrian-Cambrian; no extant sp.)
  4  Ctenophora (comb jellies; 80+ living species)
  ?  Conulata (U. Precamb.-Triassic; no living species)
        I showed the poriferan classes because I suspect that this
cladistic classification is oversimplified due to our lack of knowledge.
The Archaeocyathea may actually be descendants of Demospongea (rather
than sister groups), in which case the Archaeocyathea would be coded by
an underlined lower case a.  And in a more detailed classification of
Demospongea, we would include the following "Kinman marker" in the
appropriate place and with the appropriate coding:    {{Archaeocyathea}}
       Those of us primarily interested in evolutionary relationships
may continue our debates, and although our code sequences may vary
dramatically, the basic classification will remain amazingly stable.
Stability and progress can successfully coexist, and even more
remarkably these classifications store more information than either
eclectic or cladistic classifications.  There are other advantages to
this new system, but I don't have time to get into all of that.  I just
hope this gives you some idea of what I have tried to do, and that the
30-year war between eclecticists and cladists is simply unnecessary.  We
have more important things to debate about.  I've got to run.
                         Cheers, Ken Kinman

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