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Taxonomy (was Re: AMARGASAURUS SATTLERI)



NJPharris@aol.com wrote:
> 
> I'm not sure what you're asking.  Of course, morphology, genome, etc., are
> different in different taxa.  But if you were confronted with every
> individual organism that ever lived, morphology and genome would appear to be
> pretty much continuously variable, without any convenient breaking points
> between taxa.

If we were confronted with this information, why would we need to have
taxonomic groupings at all?
 
> So, yes, in that sense, it is the gaps in the fossil record and fortuitous
> survival (and probably, in a few cases, fortuitous sampling of living
> populations) that allow us to draw boundaries between taxa.

Turning the argument round, is not the fact that we know that we have
only a small and fortuitous sample what encourages (indeed requires) us
to develop a taxonomic system, to help fill the gaps?
 
> Am I being at all clear here?

Sort of.  It might help (in rhetorical terms) if you (and others)
started by stating what you believe taxonomy is intended to achieve in
the first place.  That way it would be clear what point you are trying
to make, and clear whether or not you had succeeded in making it.  At
the moment everybody in this debate seems lost in the thickets of
hypothetical examples.

cheers
Stephen