[Taxacom] On genera, splitting and ranking

John Grehan calabar.john at gmail.com
Sat Jul 13 09:45:36 CDT 2013


A nice example of the non-scientific nature of equating ranks was the
attempt by some researchers to place both chimpanzees and humans in Homo
because of their overall DNA sequence similarities. Despite the supposed
'fact' of human-chimpanzee affinity this was a bit too much even for the
supporters to swallow. So they then came up with a compromise to place both
within the same subfamily or tribe (I haven't looked at this for a while so
I forget which). The classification then becomes a solidification of the
theory of relationship, as if the taxonomic placement makes the theory
fact. Then there is the morphogenetic pattern which places humans and
orangutans closer together. In that relationship the choice, so far, has
been to place humans and orangutans in separate families, and chimps and
gorillas in a family of their own (Panidae).

John Grehan


On Sat, Jul 13, 2013 at 7:35 AM, Chris Thompson <xelaalex at cox.net> wrote:

> Sorry, Stephen,
>
> if Rich’s main point also applies to SPECIES, then my comments are out of
> line.
>
> Yes, there are various definition of SPECIES now, but all underlie a
> scientific approach to defining what a species is. So, a species is a
> scientific hypothesis which can be tested, etc. So, in term of Science,
> species are objective.
>
> In terms of higher categories (that is, above species) where are the
> underlying scientific definitions?
>
> So, how does one test whether Drosophilia or Sophophora is a better / more
> well supported hypothesis?
>
> One can test monophyly and both are apparently monophyletic, but when in
> comes to RANK, whether one is a valid genus or subgenus, what criteria does
> one test?
>
> Yes, Hennig once did propose a testable criterion for rank, that is, age
> of origin. However, everyone, including Hennig himself, rejected that
> criterion.
>
> Age is a wonderful and scientific criterion for rank. If we had such, then
> we could easily propose that higher Diptera (Cyclorrhapha, a suborder) is
> the same as birds (Aves, a Class) and far more diverse [Yes, the little
> creatures with narrow specialization generate more species, than larger
> more generalized predators, etc.]. But these kinds of scientific questions
> are not now possible due to the distorted system of classification we have
> and used.
>
> And the worst, the genus Homo would if one accepted age-based definitions
> be greatly broaden to conform to other groups and species, so we would have
> many more fellow species, etc.! But then again, we could change the age
> limit definition of genera to ensure that Homo remains restricted to
> sapiens and closely related fossils, which would mean hundred of thousands
> of new genera would be needed for the rest of the animal world. [and I am
> sure the plant world would also be disrupted, etc., too]
>
> Oh, well ...
>
> Sincerely,
>
> Chris
>
> from home
>
> From: Stephen Thorpe
> Sent: Friday, July 12, 2013 9:19 PM
> To: Chris Thompson ; Scott Thomson ; Taxacom
> Subject: Re: [Taxacom] On genera, splitting and ranking
>
> I think you may have missed Rich's main point, Chris? He was applying it
> also to SPECIES, which is where I am not so sure ...
>
> Stephen
>
> From: Chris Thompson <xelaalex at cox.net>
> To: Scott Thomson <scott.thomson321 at gmail.com>; Taxacom <
> taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu>
> Sent: Saturday, 13 July 2013 1:11 PM
> Subject: Re: [Taxacom] On genera, splitting and ranking
>
>
> ALL;
>
> This is a great thread, etc.
>
> As Rich Pyle indicated, it is not only genera but all higher categories.
>
> When one examines the historical record, we clearly see the trend to
> continue to split more finely and to create NEW taxa.
>
> And today with impact factors, etc., it is critical to publish NEW
> information, etc.
>
> So, today as yesterday, the reward is on publishing NEW, and that means in
> reference to higher groups, splitting existing concepts.
>
> And it is clear as Hennig years ago pointed out, there is NOTHING
> Scientific
> about the current trend in splitting, etc. There is NO objective SCIENTIFIC
> standard for ranking of taxonomic categories.
>
> So what in one part of the clade (Diptera) would meanly be considered a
> genus, in another part of the clade is ranked as a family (Inbiomyiidae).
>
> What is clear in Diptera, IS when there are general users, the public,
> biologists, etc., and for them the generic concept remains conservative.
>
> So, most still accept, for example, AEDES, for the common vectors of
> various
> disease; or DROSOPHILA for melanogaster, the genetic model, etc.,
> instead of the split classifications of Stegomyia or Sophophora.
>
> Oh, well ...
>
> Sincerely,
>
> Chris
>
> from home
>
>
>
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Scott Thomson
> Sent: Friday, July 12, 2013 1:53 PM
> To: Taxacom
> Subject: Re: [Taxacom] On genera
>
> This thread seems to have been split, but I wanted to reply to this part of
> it also. I also agree that this is what we currently do. I think it was
> this comment I was referring to when I mentioned splitting and lumping in
> the other thread. My personal view is that a lot of thought should go into
> wether or not to describe a genus, significant evidence, and much more than
> I often see should be presented to demonstrate the need for a genus.
> Equally there should not be fear, or bias, or whatever it is against
> lumping genera. I am hopeful that we can eventually get to a better
> definition of the genus. But its not there yet.
>
> Cheers, Scott
>
>
> On Fri, Jul 12, 2013 at 1:25 PM, Richard Pyle
> <deepreef at bishopmuseum.org>wrote:
>
> >
> > I completely agree with Jason on this:
> >
> > > I would strongly agree that it is a taxonomic convenience so we can
> > > communicate better and break down biodiversity for our understanding. I
> > > would disagree with the need for monophyly though, and rather push for
> > > non-polyphyletic genera, at least until taxonomists show some restraint
> > > naming genera, or at least an equal enthusiasm for synonymizing them.
> >
> > Moreover, I would extend this to all taxonomic ranks.
> >
> > Aloha,
> > Rich
> >
> > P.S. Yes, I meant *all*.
> >
> >
> > This message is only intended for the addressee named above.  Its
> contents
> > may be privileged or otherwise protected.  Any unauthorized use,
> > disclosure
> > or copying of this message or its contents is prohibited.  If you have
> > received this message by mistake, please notify us immediately by reply
> > mail or by collect telephone call.  Any personal opinions expressed in
> > this
> > message do not necessarily represent the views of the Bishop Museum.
> >
> > _______________________________________________
> > Taxacom Mailing List
> > Taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu
> > http://mailman.nhm.ku.edu/mailman/listinfo/taxacom
> >
> > The Taxacom Archive back to 1992 may be searched with either of these
> > methods:
> >
> > (1) by visiting http://taxacom.markmail.org/
> >
> > (2) a Google search specified as:  site:
> > mailman.nhm.ku.edu/pipermail/taxacom  your search terms here
> >
> > Celebrating 26 years of Taxacom in 2013.
> >
>
>
>
> --
> Scott Thomson
> 29400 Rt 6
> Youngsville, PA, 16371
> USA
> (814) 230 1151
> cell - (814) 779 8457
> Skype: Faendalimas
> http://www.carettochelys.com/
> _______________________________________________
> Taxacom Mailing List
> Taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu
> http://mailman.nhm.ku.edu/mailman/listinfo/taxacom
>
> The Taxacom Archive back to 1992 may be searched with either of these
> methods:
>
> (1) by visiting http://taxacom.markmail.org/
>
> (2) a Google search specified as:  site:
> mailman.nhm.ku.edu/pipermail/taxacom
> your search terms here
>
> Celebrating 26 years of Taxacom in 2013.
>
>
> _______________________________________________
> Taxacom Mailing List
> Taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu
> http://mailman.nhm.ku.edu/mailman/listinfo/taxacom
>
> The Taxacom Archive back to 1992 may be searched with either of these
> methods:
>
> (1) by visiting http://taxacom.markmail.org/
>
> (2) a Google search specified as:  site:
> mailman.nhm.ku.edu/pipermail/taxacom  your search terms here
>
> Celebrating 26 years of Taxacom in 2013.
>
>
> _______________________________________________
> Taxacom Mailing List
> Taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu
> http://mailman.nhm.ku.edu/mailman/listinfo/taxacom
>
> The Taxacom Archive back to 1992 may be searched with either of these
> methods:
>
> (1) by visiting http://taxacom.markmail.org
>
> (2) a Google search specified as:  site:
> mailman.nhm.ku.edu/pipermail/taxacom  your search terms here
>
> Celebrating 26 years of Taxacom in 2013.
>



More information about the Taxacom mailing list