New Universal Taxonomy Database

Bill Shear wshear at EMAIL.HSC.EDU
Fri Jul 5 11:55:17 CDT 2002

On 7/4/02 2:30 PM, "Ken Kinman" <kinman at HOTMAIL.COM> wrote:

> Dear All,
>    Has there been any discussion on TAXACOM of the Marine Biological
> Laboratory's new universal taxonomy database (the UBIO Project)?  The MBL's
> monthly newsletter for April 2002 announced a $500,000 grant from the Andrew
> W. Mellon Foundation to help support this comprehensive database.
>    WOW!!!  And here's a link to (and one sentence from) the UPI press
> release on Tuesday:

And more from the press release:

                    "This scientific dilemma is compounded by the fact that
taxonomy -- the science of classifying and naming organisms -- is scattered
into dozens of specialties, each with its own often jealously guarded way of
handling things. "Fish experts don't really care about sponges and the
dinosaurs, and so you have fish-based and ant-based and mammal-based
solutions," Remsen said. "Navigating all that information is hard because
you have to re-learn the taxonomy every time -- there's no consistency to

This is rubbish--there are only 3 systems, and they do not differ by much.
ALL animal taxonomy is governed by the ICZN, which you only have to learn
once.  But of course you would have to learn the taxonomy of sponges as a
new endeavor if you were a fish specialist--or any other kind of specialist.
So you don't have to "relearn the taxonomy" every time, only once for each
group that interests you.  What this guy is implying is that there is an
entirely separate system of naming and of categories for each taxon--makes
you wonder about his capabilities for organizing this worthwhile endeavor.

But hey--aren't they too late?  Nature and Henry Gee have already decreed
that the Linnean Society is going to handle it....

Bill Shear

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