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Timothy Williams wrote:
I don't see why or how you would consider the "phenetic" difference
>between a sparrow and an ostrich to be greater than that between
>_Tyrannosaurus_ and _Diplodocus_. Yet, under Linnaean (and Kinman-
ian) taxonomy, there are a multitude of bird "orders", yet the array >of
theropods and sauropods all get funneled into a single order, the
>Saurischia (or Saurischiformes).
This may be a somewhat naive statement, and covered on the list before, but
many of the higher level classifications seem to have a lot of gray area.
Particularly with the introduction of cladistic methodology, taxonomic
groupings (such as family, order, etc.) seem to be rather fluid. The best
analogy that I can think of is one of a sliding bar--to create a grouping in
a monophyletic lineage, you simply slide the bar along the "branch" until
you reach a level of inclusivity that "looks" to be a family or whatever
taxonomic group you're erecting. That brings us back to the old argument
that merging Linnaean classification with cladistic methods can be an
exercise in futility. But enough quibbling by me. . .back to real science
(and no, I'm not trying to create a debate on whether classification is a
real science or not)!
On a lighter note. . .When reading about "the array of theropods and
sauropods" I can't help but remember Ralph Chapman's mother's comment on
"all the meat eaters looking the same" (my apologies to Tim or any theropod
fans on the last).
But seriously. . .I'm doing a good amount of work here at the Smithsonian on
species richness and accumulation curves and the like. It would be cool to
take some of the good bonebed data (Mike Triebold's Sandy Site or a similar
accumulation) and do some statistical work with it, in the vein of current
ecological studies. Just a thought. . .
Also, a thank you to all those who responded to my query of last week on
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