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PhyloCode again (was *Eudibamus*)
Unfortunately the term Reptilia can't be "ignored" either. In fact,
upon putting mesosaurs back in with anapsids, Laurin and Gauthier have
decided to use Reptilia rather than Sauropsida in the Arizona "Tree of
Life". From this I would guess that Gauthier might want Reptilia to replace
Sauria, if and when turtles are transferred to Lepidosauromorpha or
Archosauromorpha. Then I suppose Sauropsida will pop back up----this all
vividly illustrates the inadvisability of sacrificing stability of content
in favor of stability of cladistic definitions. But perhaps we can at least
hope that Gauthier will drop Reptilia altogether, and this kidnapped term
will be returned to us non-cladists (although in poor shape having been so
taxonomically abused during its cladistic captivity).
In any case, most of this will be ignored by professional eclecticist
taxonomists and most of the public, and Reptilia will continue to be used in
the traditional sense (which has remained relatively stable and popular in
spite of the cladistic redefinition and the continuing shifts in content).
Of course, this could have been avoided if cladists left names like Reptilia
and Amphibia alone, and created new names for their unstable shifting taxa.
Having commandeered our names and destabilized them, strict cladists
will ultimately have to face the criticism and cladistic backlash that is
slowly building in intensity. I just hope the backlash doesn't spill over
onto cladistic "analysis", which will have great potential when it finally
becomes a mature discipline----presently it is more like a head-strong
teenager who thinks he has all the answers and has disrupted the rest of the
family in the process.
That is why I agree with Michael Benton that the PhyloCode will be a
taxonomic disaster, making things worse rather than better (for all
taxonomists). Some of us had a discussion on TAXACOM with Cantino, and
there was some agreement on at least one problem with PhyloCode, but I
wonder if he will be successful even on that change since moderate cladists
seem to be outnumbered and outvoted by more aggressive cladists.
In any case, I do look forward to reading Cantino's published response
to Benton's paper in Biological Reviews. But as I told Cantino in our
discussions, I do not share his optimism in how the PhyloCode will be
implemented by the more aggressive cladists. I wouldn't worry if I thought
it would remain as cladists squabbling among themselves, but it will no
doubt spill over and involve us all. Thank you Mike Benton for at least
trying to head off this disaster.
"David Marjanovic" wrote:
That was what I tried to imply :-] when I wrote "ignored", not "abandoned"
or "dropped". As the content is at present the same, no one forces us to
use Reptilia when we are speaking of the content, what we do most of the
What's the matter with the hips of *Eudibamus*?
Whatever, if turtles are archosauromorphs, then the term Reptilia will
become quite useless, I think.
BTW, definitions can still change (shouldn't in most cases, okay)
before PhyloCode is official.
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