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RE: Taxa nomy (and intro)



--- Christopher Taylor <ck.taylor@auckland.ac.nz> wrote:
>    I apologise if I'm saying stuff here which has been gone over long
> before, but it's my first posting to the list.

Welcome!

>     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.

Not quite. In cladistic taxonomy you'll often have taxa that are expanded to be
monophyletic, and they may include other taxa that are traditionally of the
same rank, or even great. An example near and dear to our hearts would be
_Theropoda_ (traditionally a suborder) including _Aves_ (traditionally a
class).

So you can't really have a compromised system.

> 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.

Such a statement is essentially meaningless. This is actually a harmful
byproduct of the Linnaean system, IMHO; the perception that the ranks do
correspond to something real.

>     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.

What other criteria do you advocate?

>     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.

They are pretty neat.

=====
=====> T. Michael Keesey <http://dino.lm.com/contact>
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