[Taxacom] On genera, splitting and ranking

Ken Kinman kinman at hotmail.com
Sat Jul 13 11:00:22 CDT 2013

Dear All,


       I think age of origin as a criterion for rank was a very ill-advised idea and thank goodness it was rejected.  If we were to apply it too all living things, all the kingdoms, phyla, and classes would be prokaryotes.  Animalia and Plantae would probably be orders or families.    CLEARLY, the classification we have is skewed or "distorted" for good reason, so that it is useful and balanced in way that age of origin would never have achieved (even if we did have accurate ages for all taxa).  


     By the way, I think that the suggestion that chimps be placed in genus Homo was also ill-advised, and thankfully that doesn't seem to be catching on either.  Being more of a lumper than a splitter, you would think I would be drawn to that idea, but I can see nothing to be gained from even lumping Australopithecus into Homo (much less Pan).  If it isn't broke, don't try to fix it, and efforts to change the basic content of Hominidae and Homo have done nothing but cause problems and confusion.  


                ---------------Ken Kinman           


> From: Frank.Krell at dmns.org
> To: xelaalex at cox.net; stephen_thorpe at yahoo.co.nz; scott.thomson321 at gmail.com; taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu
> Date: Sat, 13 Jul 2013 08:38:53 -0600
> Subject: Re: [Taxacom] On genera, splitting and ranking
> "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
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> Denver Museum of Nature & Science 
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