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Re: Cladistic taxonomy (was Dietary factors)
<As scientists, we have to adjust our definition of "bird" accordingly; we
have new information, and must incorporate it. As everyday people living
everyday lives, we can stick to the traditional definition of "bird", since
150-million-year-old transitional forms are not germaine to most everyday
A very rational and reasonable discussion; I appreciate what you're saying
and how you say it.
May I just identify a couple of assumptions about the most desirable choices
in your presentation without seeming critical?
First, if all scientists are also 'everyday people living everyday lives',
then couldn't they all assume that use of the term 'dinosaur' excludes
modern birds? If birds are to be included among dinosaurs in a discussion,
couldn't you choose to make that the exception to be recorded in assuring
Second, does a scientist have to respond to the discovery of hard to
classify animals early in the evolution of 'birds' by changing the
definition of a 'bird'? By changing the definition, aren't you choosing
inclusiveness over stability?
Both of the choices you urge are valuable. If priority were to be assigned
to making classification easier to comprehend initially, however, wouldn't
choosing to make the 'everyday' and the 'scientific' more compatible, as
well as emphasizing stability and simplicity, be desirable achievements?
This difference is about the better, more useful approach rather than
ineluctable right against wrong. I'd appreciate any comments you'd care to
make about the goals and priorities of classification systems.