[Taxacom] Animalia or Metazoa?

Stephen Thorpe s.thorpe at auckland.ac.nz
Thu Jul 23 21:55:39 CDT 2009

Hi Kenneth,
[Kenneth] Well, I waited to see if anyone else would respond, but nothing yet
[reply] well, there has been two replies, one via taxacom you must  
have missed, from Dieter Waloszek, a zoologist, preferring Metazoa;  
and the second, a private reply from a protistologist preferring  
I guess I don't like your reasoning because it subjectively values  
etymological transparency over popularity (Animalia is clearly more  
popular and well-known), but most names are pretty opaque in meaning,  
but we use them all the same. I think the worst ever case of  
inappropriate naming is the so-called "Holy Roman Empire", which was  
apparently neither holy, nor Roman, nor an empire! "Welsh rabbit" is  
another good one, although it is at least Welsh!
A more serious objection to your reasoning is that it actually makes  
the NAME of a taxon dependent on phylogenetic hypotheses (i.e., are  
they "higher" meta-, or more basal/primitive, and your Metabacteria  
example illustrates that quite nicely). It would I think be better to  
have phylogenetic neutrality of names, for the sake of stability...

Quoting Kenneth Kinman <kennethkinman at webtv.net>:

> Hi Stephen,
>         Well, I waited to see if anyone else would
> respond, but nothing yet. I clearly prefer Kingdom Metazoa (higher
> animals) as its name and contents are more precise. And now that
> Eumetazoa is becoming an increasingly popular subclade, it makes sense
> to have it shown as a subclade of Metazoa (not of Animalia).
>          I guess I just like Meta- as a prefix, since
> I also prefer the corresponding Metaphyta for higher plants.   I also
> prefer the relatively unknown name Metabacteria, instead of
> Archaebacteria (much less the dreadful name Archaea). Eubacteria almost
> certainly came first, with it being the paraphyletic mother group giving
> rise to Metabacteria (a.k.a., the misnomer Archaebacteria).  Later came
> the chimaeric eukaryotes with their series of endosymbioses to produce
> various eukaryotic organelles (mitochondria, plastids, and perhaps even
> the nucleus itself).   The trouble is that unfortunately many biologists
> aren't even aware of the name Metabacteria.
>         ------Ken Kinman
> ----------------------------------------------
> Stephen Thorpe wrote:
> Should the clade (kingdom) that results from the subtraction of the
> Protozoa from the old "Animalia" still be called Animalia, or Metazoa?
> There is no Code to govern this. Protistologists all seem to opt for
> Metazoa, but zoologists and general public seem not to want to let go of
> Animalia. Is there any literature discussing this issue? Anybody got an
> opinion?
> Stephen
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