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RE: Taxa nomy (and intro)
I apologise if I'm saying stuff here which has been gone over long
before, but it's my first posting to the list.
It's been my general impression that most people are sort of moving
towards a compromise system - the major ranks (family, order, class, phylum,
etc.) are still used, but most of the intermediary taxa are treated as
unranked. After all, the main disadvantage of a totally unranked system is
that it gives nowhere to hang one's hat - people still want to be able to
say that x number of families can be found in an area, for example. Yes, the
assignment of family rank is mostly a matter of taste and tradition, but
then so is a decision in an ecological tally, biochemical comparison or
whatever to use one group (e.g. Mammalia), two (Monotremata vs. Theria) or
three (Monotremata vs. Marsupialia vs. Placentalia).
I should also note that I personally don't like the idea of making
phylogeny our sole criterion for taxonomy because so many organisms
(probably even the majority) are still so poorly known phylogenetically.
By way of introduction, my name is Christopher Taylor, I'm not a
professional palaeontologist or even close, but I do have a lot of interest
in matters taxonomic. I hope that I might be able to contribute something
positive to the discussions, but I've got my fingers crossed.
And for the record, my favourite dinosaurs (or at least the ones that
I'm most upset about the lack of public knowledge of) are Pelagornithidae. I
would say Cladornis, but that one's so little known that complaining about
it would be practically pointless :P
Ja ne baibai,