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Re: Taxonomy is insane



In a message dated 95-10-20 01:01:11 EDT, GSP1954@aol.com writes:

>The fact is that we do not have the tools to reliably determine
>sexual-ontogenetic versus taxonomic differences in dinosaurs at this time.
>This sort of thing is hard enough to do with recent taxa (imagine trying to
>sort out a number of canid taxa in a fossil site if they had been extinct
for
>100 million years). Certainly the sample sizes in most cases are grossly
>inadequate to work with. 
>It is questionable whether we will ever have the means to restore the
>taxonomic status of many dinosaurs at the genus-species level based on
>skeletons. 
>Until and unless solid means for determining dinosaur taxa are available, is

>this pursuit just the paleo equivalent of figuring out how many angels can
>dance on the head of the pin? After all, if we are going to demand money to
>do research, we might want to be able to produce some more meaningful
>results. There are limits to what can be done in paleontology, and a better
>emphasis of limited resources and time may be wise.

Taxonomy is not quite as chaotic as all that. We can reach agreement when
fossils are sufficiently dissimilar; the battles start when the fossils begin
to resemble one another too closely. Then life is a lot easier when you're a
lumper.