[Taxacom] Why Australians are more real than Americans: implications for taxonomy!

Jim Croft jim.croft at gmail.com
Mon Sep 7 04:30:14 CDT 2009

Don't know about being more real, but we are sure as hell prettier...


On Mon, Sep 7, 2009 at 7:11 AM, Stephen Thorpe<s.thorpe at auckland.ac.nz> wrote:
> Key words: Taxon concepts, identification
> Yes, Richard, species ARE real entities in the world! They might not have
> existed in a world where there was an unbroken continuum between diverse
> morphologies, but in our world there are "gaps" which break the biotic realm
> up into species.
> Analogy:
> OK, forget the minor complications posed by Hawaii and Tasmania.
> In order to understand the U.S.A., you need to know where the political
> borders with Canada and Mexico are. This is analogous to a taxon concept.
> By contrast, in order to understand Australia, all you need to do is stick a
> flag in the ground anywhere within Australia, and declare that Australia is
> all the land in all directions until you get to the sea. You need not know
> where the coastline is.
> Species are like Australia, not like U.S.A.
> Sticking a flag in the ground is like designating a holotype
> When you identify a specimen, you are asserting that it is on the same
> "island" as the type of that species, but you need not have any
> understanding at all of where the "coastline" is. That is determined by the
> world, not by us ...
> So, if someone identifies a specimen as being Centropyge fisheri, what
> matters is where the species boundaries actually are, not where the
> identifier thinks they are. Otherwise they would simply be correct or not
> relative to their taxon concept, when in fact the identification is correct
> or not depending on a discoverable feature of the world...
> Stephen

Jim Croft ~ jim.croft at gmail.com ~ +61-2-62509499 ~
... in pursuit of the meaning of leaf ...
... 'All is leaf' ('Alles ist Blatt') - Goethe

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