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Re: The Papers That Ate Cincinnati

On 5/4/07, Jerry D. Harris <jharris@dixie.edu> wrote:

This is one of those kinds of papers that I'll probably have to read a few times to get the overall gist of -- the discussion behind various phylogenetic nomenclatures is, for whatever reason, one of those things that doesn't go into my skull easily -- but it lays out some very good guidelines, at least by my reading. How (or if) they'll ever be implemented, though, remains to be seen, especially for various really contentious definitions (e.g., Aves vs. Avialae, Ornithuromorpha vs. Euornithes) -- after all, it's _people_ dealing with all this rather than strictly logic-based machines (I wonder how the Borg would handle phylogenetic nomenclature...), and emotions have clearly infected some of these debates.

I've often thought that implementing the PhyloCode would be a lot easier if it simply used new names and didn't convert any traditional ones. (But nothing worth it is ever easy, and a PhyloCode without converted traditional names is not worth it.)

One aspect the paper doesn't really cover (though it covers
a LOT in its brief 6 pages!), at least not explicitly, is _commonness_ of
usage as a criterion, and in particular how a term is most commonly
perceived/implemented, which I think is an exceedingly important, if not
overarching, component of naming (e.g., Aves has included _Archaeopteryx_
for over 100 years, and even the general public, when they know of
_Archaeopteryx_ at all, understands that it is a "bird" -- the paper does
discuss vernacular terms), which even though it was not originally
constructed to include it (_Archaeopteryx_ being unknown to Linnaeus), to me
automatically overrides Avialae and Aves sensu Gauthier;

We've had a long discussion on this topic here:

T. Michael Keesey
Director of Technology
Exopolis, Inc.
2894 Rowena Avenue Ste. B
Los Angeles, California 90039
The Dinosauricon: http://dino.lm.com
Parry & Carney: http://parryandcarney.com
ISPN Forum: http://www.phylonames.org/forum/