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Re: AMARGASAURUS (& taxonomy generally)
In a message dated 9/5/00 6:21:21 PM Eastern Daylight Time,
> Mother nature has indeed done us a favor by only giving us a tiny
> sliver of taxonomic diversity to classify, and plenty of big gaps where we
> can draw our arbitrary lines around taxa.
> Unfortunately phylogenetic taxonomy, especially at higher taxonomic
> levels, has gone beyond what Hennig envisioned, and the automatic
> of cladograms into strict cladifications (and ignoring the paraphyletic
> nature of speciation)
Ah, but the first part of this quote removes the rationale for the second.
Nature has given us a finite set of individuals to look at. All we have to
do is determine the interrelationships of those individuals (hard in
practice, but easy in theory), and it is a rather simple matter to draw
monophyletic species, genera, families, etc., around them--species, genera,
and other groups that, at least preliminarily, *consist only of those
individuals included in the study*.
Arguing about which genus to assign the common ancestor of all
Dicraeosauridae to (a common ancestor we've never seen and almost certainly
never will) is about as useful as arguing about how many angels can dance on
the head of a pin.