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Re: definition of species

Phillip Bigelow <n8010095@henson.cc.wwu.edu> asks to be, oops, I mean
     asks NOT to be flamed about stuff like:

> There are presently over 8000 bird "species" living today.  How many
> of that number are actually distinct species and how many are simply
> variants is anyone's guess.

Dinosaurs... I mean birds (sorry, Ken :-) are probably about the best
characterized of all the neontological groups.  I don't think that you
should have picked them as you did, Phil.  There is a big problem in
terms of how "species" are defined in practice, and as a species we
generally haven't been terribly consistent about it.  But birds are a
bad example to demonstrate that point.  Before advancing an argument
such as what I quoted above, you should probably take a look at (among
other things) chapter 18 of Mayr's _Toward a New Philosophy of
Biology_.  (As an ancillary point, the number of bird species should
probably be closer to 10000 than 8000.)

More generally, that would be a good book for issues surrounding the
definition of "species" with regards to all extant forms.

Mickey Rowe     (rowe@lepomis.psych.upenn.edu)