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Re: Fossil species



On Mon, 4 Feb 2002 20:40:10   
 KiernanCR wrote:
>In a message dated 2/4/02 7:09:11 PM, dinoland@lycos.com writes:
>
><< >Too bad there is no real scientific method for determining what belongs to
>>a genus. 
>
>Certainly.  Every Linnaean rank above species, as mentioned in a previous 
>post, is completely arbitrary and based on the observer. >>
>
>I don't really see *fossil* species as being much, if any, less arbitrary 
>than genera. 

Unfortunately, when dealing with fossils, what you allude to is correct.  But, 
the enigmatic concept of a genus applies to everything living and extinct.  
However, it certainly seems easier to differentiate between say, 
_Psittacosaurus mongoliensis_ and _P. sinensis_, than to divide the 
_Psittacosaurus_ species into distinct genera. This was discussed onlist a few 
months or so ago, with no one able to come up with a distinct set of characters 
to divide _Psittacosaurus_ into two genera (of course, some may have missed the 
post...in which case I would be interested in hearing suggestions).  

I don't see cladistics as an end to all means, but the idea of a clade is 
certainly much more stable than something like a "genus."

Steve   

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