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Quoting Bill Hunt <bill@huntstudios.com>:

> > 
> > So, what is the difference between a genus and a species? It works both
> > ways. As Tom Holtz has pointed out, there really is no meter, no special
> > character that if it shows up makes a taxon _sooo_ unique it gets to be a
> > genus on its pretty lonesome.
> > 
> I don't know about dinosaurs and other extinct animals, but in contempory
> zoology a species is defined by whether or not they can reproduce.  In other
> words, if a female and a male can produce viable offspring, then they belong
> to the same species.  If they can only produce sterile offspring; 

Even this gets tricky, though, when, say, some percentage of the offspring are 
fertile and some sterile.

[I know I've used this example before on-list, so please forgive me for 
repeating.]  Leopard cats and house cats are not even particularly closely 
related as felids (or at least felines) go, yet when mated they produce sterile 
male offspring and fertile females.

Nick Pharris
Department of Linguistics
University of Michigan