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Re: Cladism and Ranking

Jeff wrote: 
>  Now the question is, are the names just put into a list?  I.e. you
>just have a column of names going from the species all the way back to that
>first blue-green algae?

>    Deinonychus
>    Deinonychosauria
>    Maniraptora
>    Coelurosauria
>    Tetanurae
>    Theropoda
>    etc.
>    is going to be damn difficult to represent in a relational database......

  Why?  The "trunk" of your cladistic tree is only going to go as far back
as "dinosauromorpha", right?  I mean, why go back to archosauromorpha...you
know all dinos are archosaurs, anyway!  Don't sweat the extra work. 

Heck, you don't even need a relational database...you could use a
spreadsheat program like 1-2-3 for this stuff.  Just type in all of the
clade names for the dinosaurs (as they stand up to that second!  :-) on the
1st line of the spreadsheet in descending or ascending order (it doesn't
matter, really).
  Then, type in the species names in the 1st COLUMN, and then put a "1" in
every clade column that applies to that species.  For clades that don't
apply, put a "0".  Like this:

                Deinonychosauria   Maniraptora   Tetanurae   Theropoda  etc.
Deinonychus a.       1                 1            1           1        1

T. rex               0                 0            1           1        1

Triceratops          0                 0            0           0        1

Coelophysis          0                 0            0           1        1

(obviously, Triceratops will have its own clades WAY to the right,
                       off the page) ----------------------------------->>

Then, you have two choices.  You can either write a macro program to search
and sort your data, or you could write a macro yourself.  With a macro
program, you simply type in a name of a species and the macro pulls the
relevant clades out of the spreadsheet and displays it in front of you.  You
could also write macros that could answer the question:

   "List all dinosaur species that are within the Maniraptora clade". 

This would be easy to maintain, too.  If Tom Holtz suddenly decides
to change the clade "maniraptora" to "Holtzaraptora", all you need to do is
change ONE word on ONE line, and you are up-to-date.