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Re: Archaeopteryx

Quoting "T. Michael Keesey" <mightyodinn@yahoo.com>:

> > Colin McHenry wrote:
> > 
> > I can't really offer a definition, only a description and a list of
> included
> > taxa.  With higher taxa, I don't think that its possible to define them
> > without reference to the latter.  But then, that's probably agreeing with
> > what you are saying.
> Pretty much.

Forgive me for intruding, but I'm not sure you are saying the same thing.  I 
have the impression that HP McHenry would want an exhaustive list of included 
taxa, whereas for HP Keesey, a small number of specifiers would suffice.

> It isn't scientific to have "touchy-feely" taxa. "Oh, I feel like this
> should
> be in _Aves_. No, this should not be in _Aves_." That's completely
> subjective.
> The idea behind phylogenetic taxonomy is to have rigorous definitions which
> can
> be objectively applied to a hypothesized tree.

As someone to whom the meanings of names actually matters (I know, arrogant, 
ivory-tower linguist...), I think the problem is that "Aves" (which, after all, 
means 'birds') is essentially an archetype-based name (one has a gut feeling as 
to what qualifies as a bird, and therefore what qualifies as a member of Aves).

If we're doing away with archetype-based taxa, then maybe we should just do 
away with these archetype-based names as well.

Similarly, apomorphy-based names should be restricted to apomorphy based 
clades.  Clades defined solely on internal and external specifiers can have 
names derived from those of their internal specifier taxa.

And yes, I still think the genus has to be the "basic unit" of taxonomic 
nomenclature.  I'm working on an automatic algorithm that should be able to 
tell which generic names to keep, and which to chuck.

Nick Pharris
Department of Linguistics
University of Michigan