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Re: Hanson 2006, Mortimer, Baeker response

Quoting Tim Williams <twilliams_alpha@hotmail.com>:

For example, we cannot have one -idae inside another -idae (like Agustiniidae inside Titanosauridae), or have -inae above -idae (such as Dromaeosauridae inside Microraptorinae). Other clades can change in content relative to each other, but these family-level coordinated clades ("family", "subfamily", "tribe" - idae, -inae, -ini) have to stay in a hierarchial sequence. This is the "baggage" you are referring to.

There are those who would consider encoding relative rank in the ending on the name a good and useful thing.

The reason I don't feel the mandatory surge of outrage whenever I hear the word "family" is that I want a way to say the following kind of thing, which is actually pretty common:

        Other sauropod remains from the Hastings Beds Group
        represent basal Titanosauriformes, Titanosauria and
        Diplodocidae; the new taxon brings to four the number
        of sauropod 'families' represented in this unit.

I'm totally fine with this. However, while "family" is useful for categorizing diversity, it does not quantify diversity in any meaningful way. In the above sentence you could replace 'families' with 'taxa'; this would convey the same meaning, given that the first clause already clues us in about the level of phylogenetic diversity.

Why not just say "morphological type", since that's what we seem to mean?

Nicholas J. Pharris, Ph.D.
Department of Linguistics
University of Michigan

"Creativity is the sudden cessation of stupidity."
    --Edwin H. Land