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Re: Some thoughts on AVES (& gaps)

In a message dated Fri, 2 Nov 2001  2:23:06 PM Eastern Standard Time, "Ken 
Kinman" <kinman@hotmail.com> writes:

> we might as well get some 
> advantage out of that "lack of information".

Indeed, if we knew the actual, individual-by-individual ancestry of everything 
that ever lived on earth, our classification scheme, even at the species level, 
would utterly collapse, and the only workable units would be the individuals 
themselves (which if you think about it, is the way it really is anyway).

>      What makes the mammal transition so useful is that it is NOT a single 
> (population or species level) change.  It is a series of character 
> transformations that followed in relatively rapid succession (at least fast 
> in geological time).  This gap is huge compared to the little gaps which we 
> neotologists deal with at species level.

Here I must part company with Ken (again).  In order for the definition to be 
workable, it would have to be distilled right down to one of those "little 
gaps" HP Kinman doesn't want to fiddle with.  I would certainly want to define 
the group in such a way that *any* specimen that might be uncovered in the 
future could in principle be unambiguously placed inside or outside the group.

--Nick P.