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RE: worrying decline

> From: owner-dinosaur@usc.edu [mailto:owner-dinosaur@usc.edu]On Behalf Of
> Dr Alex Cook
> Selling of scientific names is a fine tightrope to walk, some researchers
> have been forced to do so. It is symptomatic of a greater problem.
> Traditional taxonomy has been replaced by the menace of cladistics (a
> useful adjunct to taxonomy, but no more!), which has diverted research
> funding away from primary taxonomy towards the number crunchers.
> The number of journals filled with recycled, unhelpful cladistic analyses
> is more worrying.
> In 100 years what shall palaeos be reading?
> Will it be one of the fifty thousand secondary analyses, or a primary
> description of a new, even if oddly-named taxon?
With all due respect, this is hogwash.

Most people who are doing cladistics (or morphological cladistics, at
least!) at museums and university are ALSO involved with the description of
new specimens.  If the situation you mentioned were true, than American
Museum Novitates and the Bulletin of the AMNH and articles in JVP or Journal
of Paleontology or Palaeontology, etc., would be nothing but data matricies
and cladograms.  Instead most of these include several pages of anatomical
descriptions, line drawings and photographs, and the like, and a
phylogenetic analysis tacked on at the end.  The description of new
specimens remains the mainstay of these journals.

That being said, it is true that specimen-level analyses are not being as
well funded, which hurts both anatomists and systemicists (not that these
are really two different groups of people in all cases!).  And indeed this
is PRECISELY the problem that Michael S.Y. Lee was addressing in the TREE
issue discussed at the beginning of this trend!

                Thomas R. Holtz, Jr.
                Vertebrate Paleontologist
Department of Geology           Director, Earth, Life & Time Program
University of Maryland          College Park Scholars
                College Park, MD  20742
Phone:  301-405-4084    Email:  tholtz@geol.umd.edu
Fax (Geol):  301-314-9661       Fax (CPS-ELT): 301-405-0796