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Re: The PhyloCode will not address the naming of species (Was The Papers That Ate Cincinnati)



Anthony Docimo writes:
 >> Their names are made up, but they can be defined. What _ranks_ are
 >> given to those names is an _entirely_ subjective decision. Surely
 >> you have noticed that no two published classifications of any
 >> group are identical: that's because nobody can say that any
 >> classification is right or wrong, _
 > 
 > really?
 > 
 > so, who is it who says that the new critters {that live *only* on
 > lobster eyebrows} are _not_ a new phylum? *curious*

Anyone!  No-one!  You!  Me!

Seriously.  You could write a paper naming a new phylum
Anthonydocimoalia for these lobster-eyebrow critters, and submit it to
a journal.  If the editors and peer-reviewers agreed with your
argument, then it would be published and the new phylum would be
established in the literature.

And then someone else would come along with another paper that argues
that Anthonydocimoalia does not merit the rank of "phylum" and that it
should instead be considered a parasuperinfraclass of Arthropoda, and
_that_ opinion would be established in the literature, too.

And so on.

Now instead suppose that someone defined a clade Foobaria as "the most
recent comment ancestor of arthropods and molluscs plus all its
descendants".  That entity is fixed by the phylogeny, and the name
would always be associated with the same definition.  The perceived
_content_ of the clade would change as phylogeneric hypotheses
changed, but that's fine: it just reflects the progress of phylogeny.
So then you could ask precise objective questions such as "do the
lobster-eyebrow critters fall into the clade Foobaria"?  And the
answer would be determined by doing science rather than according to
individuals' taste and judgement.

 _/|_    ___________________________________________________________________
/o ) \/  Mike Taylor    <mike@indexdata.com>    http://www.miketaylor.org.uk
)_v__/\  "When a man is tired of Ankh Morpork, he is tired of ankle-deep
         slurry" -- Terry Pratchett, "Mort"