And what is in a name?

Ron at Ron at
Thu Jul 19 18:32:51 CDT 2001

Some cross posting. Some missed references for previous not so crossed.

Mark Walker" <MWalker at> wrote.
Subject: RE: And what is in a name?

> Ron Gatrelle wrote:
> <much snippage>
> 2) A transfer of organisms into a new or another genus (or species due to
> > a change in rank to subspecies) occurs through new evolutionary
> > understanding. This is not always agreed upon by all "experts" and so
>> more than one alignment may be found. However, the original
> > epithet given to the individual organism stays the same as it is
> > immutable. In time all the adjustments (from finding and adopting
> > the original immutable epithets or from understanding the true
> > evolutionary relationships) will provide an
> > everlasting unchanging nomenclature.
> Just curious:  so what happens when an organism that is the oldest owner
> of some original immutable name is later discovered to belong to another
> genus with a different immutable name.  Is the old name now associated
> with the next-oldest organism currently associated with that name?  Or
> can this be justification for renaming the remaining organisms in this
> line? What if there is an older name originally assigned to the
> second-oldest organism - one that was discarded when it was determined
> that it should be associated with the former?
> Sorry.  I'm just enjoying the complexity of it all as I prepare to relax
> some specimens whose name I'm not even sure of, but whose beauty
> I am sure of.
> Mark Walker
> Oceanside, CA
> >

    This is not an answer to your maze but maybe not so unrelated either.
Some things are true  even though they appear totally contradictory. This
is because they are mutually exclusive.
    Systematics, taxonomy, and nomenclature are all one - as an apple's
core, meat, and skin are all distinct but irreducibly necessary for there
to be apples. (The rules of nomenclature, by the way, are the tracks on
which sytematics and it taxonomic cargo run.) So, I disagree with
Gochfeld's post earlier in the week that "...taxonomy is only the
    Anyway.  Life is seen at three levels - the past, the present and the
future. We have deleanated the ancient past, we are definig the present,
but I see no taxonomic or nomenclatorial consideration for the future.
Perhaps this is why so many seem to move away from subspecies and I am so
drawn to them. What will be tomorrow will not arise from the a kingdom, a
family, a gunus or a species. It will all arise from the tiny capalary of
subspecies. The area where genetic study sees virtually nothing - but where
the entire biota of the future is dynamically coming into being.
    The contradiction. Today's individual subspecific (or specific if mono)
epithet as the lowest determinable or recognizable distinctly unique
biological entity is immutable.
    The mutually exclusive. What it evolves into tomorrow
will receive a different epithet (name or code or number) this too will be
immutable. Why? They are different, that's why. Like steps on a ladder. Now
this takes mucho tiempo. Which is why I said in my most recent
philosophical post that after millions of years I hope nomenclature will
have functioned as a family album full of evolutionary snap shots. Little
new born John Rodger Smith III.  Then little Johnny at age 10. At 16, JS to
anyone who mattered. At 40 Dr. J. Rodger Smith. or Grandpa. Each unique and
each the same. If birds came from dinosaurs does that make dinosaurs birds
or birds dinosaurs?  A taxon is only what it is today - it has a man given
identity. As long as it is an X we will always call it an X. When it
becomes a Y we will then call it a Y. But even when it is a Y in the now
the name X is still the immutable tag for what it was in the past. With W
still to come.

In time all the adjustments (from finding and adopting the original
immutable epithets or from understanding the true evolutionary
 relationships) will provide an everlasting unchanging nomenclature
(by 6240 layered as a time/space record) - not everlasting unchanging
organisms. Thus, a seeming contradiction from the mutually exclusive.


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