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future "taxonomy generally"
Jaime and others,
The mutability of genes, bacteria, primitive eukaryotes, and "higher
organisms" is just one of the virtually continuous facets of the complex
evolutionary continuity of life overall.
I believe the classification systems of the future will therefore be
integrated in a way that we can barely imagine, but reflecting life's
continuity from the molecular level right on up to true Trees of Life (and I
am not talking about simplistic "Three Domain" trees, which I believe are
doing more harm than good).
Traditional eclecticism was too rigid to make a smooth transition to
these future classification systems, and I believe traditional (strict)
cladism is also too rigid (having swung the pendulum too far the other way).
How these will be melded into one unified approach cannot be predicted,
but like it not, that approach will not be based on descent alone and some
"paraphyletic" (or at least semi-paraphyletic) groups are inevitable (and
whether the Linnean System will be modified or abandoned is difficult to
Strict cladism has hardly started to bump up against such
inevitabilities, but it will. Whether the future unified approach is called
neo-neotransformed cladistics or cladisto-eclecticism, or whatever, makes no
difference to me. I would like to see the transition made as quickly and
painlessly as possible, but suspect it is going to be a confusing,
unpleasant, and drawn-out process.
As I said before, I don't think anyone can presently wrap their mind
around what future classifications will look like, but I certainly look
forward to them, however much I dread the messy transition between now and
then. Biology will certainly become more productive at that time, and
historians of science can rummage through the rubble and theorize how we
could have done it better.
And in the meantime interesting new pieces of the puzzle of life will
get us through such unpleasantness, adding new grist to our scientific
mills. Whether I am being too pessimistic or too optimistic, only time will
tell. But I am certainly expecting a lot of surprises along the way.
Perhaps distinguish. That's actually the easy part,
and is a lot to do with why cladistics has caught on
so well. In groups of organizisms where the forms
mimic and assume characteristics of each other, such
as bacteria and genes, this is a lot more difficult. A
system for grouping genes and bacteria will not work
the same because so-called higher organisms will not
have the mutability that bacteria and such show.
Defining things requires concrete definitions to
cease confusion. The fact that listing taxa and
placing markers beside them suggests that a definition
is ambiguous, rather than considered true, based on a
ambivalence on whether or not a group might exist.
Jaime "James" A. Headden
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