Paraphyly and names

Peter Stevens peter.stevens at MOBOT.ORG
Sat Jan 19 14:25:57 CST 2002

I hate to say it, but I think that just about every refence to history in
this whole thread is either flat out wrong and/or irrelevant.
Predicitivity seems always to have been associated with "natural"
classifications, at least in post-Renaissance times (e,g, Cesalpino, a
source for quite a bit of Linnaeus's theory).  It may not be
evolution-based predicitivity, but there seems little different in
principle between the kind of predicitivity some of our predecessors were
thinking about and that mentioned by Rich.  When we discuss  paraphyly and
how to name organisms we can safely wonder about whether binomials or
"hierarchical" classifications might be useful without worrying about what
Linnaeus was thinking, or had eaten for lunch.  Speaking of which....

Peter S.

>The Linnaean-based nomenclatural system had been used successfully for many
>decades by taxonomists with little or no inkling of any evolution-based
>predictive value of their nomenclature.  It continued to be used without
>such predictive intent for decades after Darwin as well. Now that we are at
>a point in the progress of taxonomic methodology where we can make
>conclusions (delusions?) about the "true" evolutionary history of organisms,
>we finally have a meaningful context in which to apply some sort of
>predictive value to classification.  The big question (in my mind) is
>whether it makes more sense to redefine the purpose and application of a
>nomenclatural system developed by a creationist two hundred and fifty years
>ago to catagorize life, or whether it makes more sense to develop a new
>system with the explicit, unambiguous purpose of maping the branches in the
>Tree of Life -- allowing the old system to continue serving its purpose in
>more or less the same way it that it always has.
>Richard L. Pyle
>Ichthyology, Bishop Museum
>1525 Bernice St., Honolulu, HI 96817
>Ph: (808)848-4115, Fax: (808)847-8252
>email: deepreef at
>"The opinions expressed are those of the sender, and not necessarily those
>of Bishop Museum."

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