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Re: LIONS & TIGERS REVISITED



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
notwithstanding.

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