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Quoting G.O., Darren Naish wrote (9/24/00):

>George wrote...

>> E.g., lions and tigers are skeletally indistinguishable (any putative    
>> differences are swamped by individual variation within each species) 

>Sorry, this is untrue - thanks to recently published reviews (see Turner 
and Anton) their skulls can be reliably distinguished: in the postcrania 
tigers are generally more robust. Incidentally, most cat workers do not 
think that lions and tigers are particularly closely related: lions are part

of a 'spotted clade' that includes jaguars and leopards - tigers are 
outside of this group.<

First, let me say that, as happens occasionally, my local network kicked me
off the list a few weeks ago.  This time, and the 4 or 5 times that happened
previously, I stayed off for a while, being just too busy to bother with
this much e-mail.  I resubscribed late last week, and quickly learned of the
bad news about Betty Cunningham.  I already seemed to be a bit late to say
naything, so I didn't.  But here is a perspective I didn't see expressed by
anyone else.  I often feel dissatisfied with the way the world works.  When
these kinds of things happen, I feel cheated.  We all were robbed, don't you
think?  What a loss.  A real downer.

Now, back to the story.

I SUSPECT that what G.O pointed out is probably true, although I am
obviously not an expert.  I, too, am concerned about what "generally more
robust" means, as G.O pointed out in a subsequent posting, and that sounds
to me like a euphemism for "they really run together," as far as skeletal
features are concerned.  

Then I think about Triceratops, and all its putative, one-time species that
also ran together, meaning there was just one, or at least a very few, based
on skeletal features of the skull.  What would you think if I looked at all
those data, and then said I really don't think they are closely related,
because some may have been striped and others spotted?

Just food for thought.

Another question:  How "close" is "close" (as in not particularly closely
related)?  I suggest that producing viable offspring means, almost by
definition, they are close, the apparent structure of rather derived clades

Finally, always keep in mind the limitations of working with paleontologic
(=morphologic) species definitions.   

As you can see from this whole posting, I just don't understand Earth life!

Norm King