Higher categories

Don.Colless at CSIRO.AU Don.Colless at CSIRO.AU
Tue Feb 11 14:04:29 CST 2003

Ken Kinman wrote:

***I pretty much agree with Don's viewpoint with one major exception (unless
I misunderstood his statement). I cannot agree that category names above
Order are mainly for the convenience of experts (although that is what
strict cladism could cause them to become, if we let it). Perhaps he was
referring to this unfortunate direction in which taxonomy has been drifting.

At Class level we have formal taxa for mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians,
star fish, sea urchins, sea cucumbers, corals, jellyfish, dicots, monocots,
conifers, true ferns, horsetails, club mosses, true mosses, diatoms, brown
algae, chitons, snails, cephalopods, polychaetes, earthworms, leeches,
insects, millipedes, centipedes, trilobites, barnacles, arachnids, and

At phylum level, we have bryophytes, ferns, conifers, flowering plants,
sponges, comb jellies, cnidarians, echinoderms, chordates, molluscs,
arthropods, red algae, green algae, and even cyanobacteria (blue-green
algae). And most biology students are acquainted with the basic five
kingdoms (prokaryotes, protists, plants, animals, and true
"fungi")----although many of those who are now being primarily taught the
Three Domains will likely be confused for a long time to come.***


Ken is right, that ordinary language does use some categories above Order -
but not that many. I was referring to ORDINARY language, of the type that a
simple man-in-the-street might use; and many in Ken's list are just a bit
sophisticated. Ask a bank-clerk (OK, a worthy occupation, but unlikely to be
a cryptobiologist) what an amphibian is, or a dicot, or a polychaete, or a
comb jelly, or a horsetail, or a chordate! I was NOT referring to biology
students. Nor was I suggesting that biologists don't have "common names" for
their charges!

My comment concerned an apparently significant approximation.

Don C.

Don Colless
Div of Entomology, CSIRO, Canberra,
don.colless at csiro.au <mailto:don.colless at csiro.au>
Tuz li munz est miens envirun

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