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Re: Hanson 2006, Mortimer, Baeker response
Mike Taylor wrote:
I highly doubt it. I don't think we're living in such a
monophyly-thought-police world quite yet.
Speaking for myself, I would prefer that all named groups be monophyletic.
Paraphyletic groups only cause confusion (for me, anyway). For example, I
don't want to back to the bad old days when Theropoda was paraphyletic, and
birds (Aves) were excluded because they were considered too "different" to
be put in with the theropods.
Ye-es. But while we would all agree that there is an element of
subjectivity to beauty, I also think you'd be hard-pressed to find someone
who, for example, wouldn't agree that Keira
Knightly and Rachel Weisz are easier on the eye than Maragret Thatcher.
of _Tendaguria_ as Keira Knightly, _Agustinia_ as Rachel Weisz and
_Jobaria_ as Maragret Thatcher :-)
This would make for an interesting character-based cladistic analysis. Can
you imagine examining every aspect of Ms Knightly's anatomy in detail? On
second thoughts, don't answer that. ;-)
Ah, the _Titanosaurus_ problem. That is, not a problem at all. You'll
recall from _last_ week's long, pointless argument (:-) that _Titanosaurus_
was originally named based on characters that are now not diagnostic to the
level of the taxon then erected. No problem: the name served us well for
100 years, and has now been deprecated. Same thing applies to
"Tedaguriidae": you can raise the name now, while it's useful; and if in
the future it's not useful, tear it down.
But I would argue that Tendaguriidae is not useful *now*, given that it only
includes one genus (_Tendaguria_). Having lots of families containing only
a single genus only adds to the already high number of redundant names,
I agree that it is polite to avoid this kind of thing where possible, and
foresighted to make definitions that avoid it where convenient; but that's
as far as I'm prepared to go. Sometimes when naming clades you just have
to break whatever expectations of hierarchy people may
One solution is just to abandon these hierachial names altogether. In other
words, no more names ending in -idae, -inae, -ini etc. Instead, we could
replace them with suffixes that do not have these hierarchial expectations,
like -aria, -odea, -ia, or -ida. That way we wouldn't have too worry about
putting "superfamilies" inside "families", or "families" inside
"subfamilies", and so on. Reminds me of that silly song, "There Was an Old
Woman Who Swallowed a Fly".