[Taxacom] On genera, splitting and ranking

Frank.Krell at dmns.org Frank.Krell at dmns.org
Sat Jul 13 09:54:55 CDT 2013


Yes, science is a work in progress. The minimal estimates are getting refined all the time, our knowledge of the fossil record (and about molecular divergence and clocks) gets better with time.
I strongly oppose that the incompleteness of our knowledge should lead us to refuse applying this knowledge and using unscientific, emotional and subjective criteria instead.

Frank

Dr. Frank-T. Krell
Curator of Entomology
Commissioner, International Commission on Zoological Nomenclature
Chair, ICZN ZooBank Committee
Department of Zoology
Denver Museum of Nature & Science
2001 Colorado Boulevard
Denver, CO 80205-5798 USA
Frank.Krell at dmns.org
Phone: (+1) (303) 370-8244
Fax: (+1) (303) 331-6492
http://www.dmns.org/science/museum-scientists/frank-krell
lab page: http://www.dmns.org/krell-lab

The Denver Museum of Nature & Science aspires to create a community of critical thinkers who understand the lessons of the past and act as responsible stewards of the future.


________________________________
From: John Grehan [calabar.john at gmail.com]
Sent: Saturday, July 13, 2013 8:47 AM
To: Frank T. Krell
Cc: Chris Thompson; Stephen Thorpe; Scott Thomson; taxacom
Subject: Re: [Taxacom] On genera, splitting and ranking

The trouble with age is that we only have minimal estimates available based on the fossil record (and molecular divergence estimates are just an extrapolation based on one or other molecular clock model). Most species don't even have a fossil record.

John Grehan


On Sat, Jul 13, 2013 at 10:38 AM, <Frank.Krell at dmns.org<mailto:Frank.Krell at dmns.org>> wrote:
"Yes, Hennig once did propose a testable criterion for rank, that is, age of origin. However, everyone, including Hennig himself, rejected that criterion."

Chris, would you remind me where he did so? I just cannot remember that he did, but it is long ago that I read all his theoretical works (in German).

"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."

Isn't it amazing that a clear and useful criterion, probably the only phylogenetically justifiable criterion to define rank meets with so much resistance, rendering comparisons beyond one's small research domain so difficult?
Tradition (Aves is a class, Scarabaeidae is a family) is so much more important for emotionally heavily invested scientists than scientific reasoning.

And, of course, we have many paraphyletic species, but we should not have paraphyletic higher taxa. There is no reason to let the pendulum swing back to pre-hennigian times.

Frank

Dr. Frank-T. Krell
Curator of Entomology
Commissioner, International Commission on Zoological Nomenclature
Chair, ICZN ZooBank Committee
Department of Zoology
Denver Museum of Nature & Science
2001 Colorado Boulevard
Denver, CO 80205-5798 USA
Frank.Krell at dmns.org<mailto:Frank.Krell at dmns.org>
Phone: (+1) (303) 370-8244<tel:%28%2B1%29%20%28303%29%20370-8244>
Fax: (+1) (303) 331-6492<tel:%28%2B1%29%20%28303%29%20331-6492>
http://www.dmns.org/science/museum-scientists/frank-krell
lab page: http://www.dmns.org/krell-lab
The Denver Museum of Nature & Science aspires to create a community of critical thinkers who understand the lessons of the past and act as responsible stewards of the future.
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