[Taxacom] Our Monkey Ancestors

Stephen Thorpe s.thorpe at auckland.ac.nz
Thu Jan 14 14:30:33 CST 2010

When I went to school, it was order Primates - since when has Primata started being used? Next, we'll be calling flies order Dipteroptera! Sure, our ancestors were members of the order Primates, but which ones? There does seem to be a role for vernacular names in taxonomy, made more precise than in everyday usage. Sometimes they can be more stable and flexible than the scientific names...

From: taxacom-bounces at mailman.nhm.ku.edu [taxacom-bounces at mailman.nhm.ku.edu] On Behalf Of Thomas G. Lammers [lammers at uwosh.edu]
Sent: Friday, 15 January 2010 4:37 a.m.
To: taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu
Subject: Re: [Taxacom] Our Monkey Ancestors

At 10:37 PM 1/13/2010, Stephen Thorpe wrote:
>Well, it is all just semantics.

I think we are missing the point here.  All these names being bandied about
are VERNACULAR names, not scientific names.  Formal biological nomenclature
developed precisely to avoid these sorts of inane arguments.  If we say,
"Our ancestors were monkeys" we are adrift in the Sea of Confusion and
Obfuscation.  But if we say, "Our ancestors were members of Order Primata,"
we have at least made landfall in the Archipelago of Muck and Mire.

Tom Lammers

Associate Professor
Curator of the Neil A. Harriman Herbarium
Department of Biology and Microbiology

e-mail:       lammers at uwosh.edu
phone:      920-424-1002

"We all know what happens to people who stay
   in the middle of the road.  They get run over."
                                        -- Nye Bevan

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