[Taxacom] Reptilia (and Hominidae)

Kenneth Kinman kennethkinman at webtv.net
Mon Mar 16 10:46:00 CDT 2009

Curtis Clark wrote:
Some folks used to say "Humans are mammal descendants" rather than
"Humans are mammals". There was once a fashion of placing humans in a
separate *Kingdom* from other animals. 
Dear All,
      I don't think I have ever heard any educated person ever say that
humans are mammal descendants (although I'm sure Jay Leno could probably
find someone on the street that would).  Humans have been classified as
mammals since the time of Linneaus.  And one guy did propose a Kingdom
Psychozoa for humans, but I'm pretty sure that was just a joke (it was
hardly a "fashion").                           
       However, I do advocate keeping Family Hominidae for humans and
Family Pongidae (truncated clade) for the great apes.  Sure, we could
argue over whether "humans are great apes" or "humans are descendants of
great apes", but that would be just semantic hair-splitting.  And now
dumping chimps, or chimps and gorillas (or chimps, gorillas and
orangutans) into Family Hominidae just makes Family Hominidae
meaningless unless you specify which cladist you are following, and a
lot of biologists don't like it (not to mention millions of lay people
out there who don't want humans classified in the same family as chimps
and gorillas, so why go out of your way to piss off all those people as
well).  During most of the 20th Century, all biologists knew what was
meant by Family Pongidae (great apes) and Family Hominidae (humans).
Then Hennig's "cladifications" came along, and paraphylophobia
unfortunately became increasingly "fashionable".  Classifications have
become increasingly unstable ever since.
               --------Ken Kinman

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