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

On 5/10/07, Anthony Docimo <keenir@hotmail.com> wrote:

>But, on another note, if we understand "Mirandornithes" to *mean* "the >flamingo-grebe clade", then the recognition that other groups also >belong should not invalidate it. The only thing that should invalidate >it would be flamingoes and grebes not having any common ancestors.

but....don't *all* birds have a common ancestor?

Yes. (Except for thunderbirds, which are fake vehicles piloted by marionettes. :)

...in which case, {in this case-instance} what's the point of the clade?  it
tells you nothing.

Phylogenetic nomenclature is not supposed to tell you about relationships--it's supposed to tell you how to apply names *after the relationships have been discovered*. After all, you can't dictate how organisms are related. Sangster can't mandate that flamingoes and grebes must share a clade to the exclusion of most other avians. But he can suggest that the smallest clade that includes flamingoes and grebes, whatever is contains, be named "Mirandornithes".

In cases where the phylogeny is poorly understood (such as within
_Neoaves_), the content associated with names may indeed fluctutate.
(And, for this reason, the PhyloCode has recommendations about when
*not* to name clades--and, indeed, "Mirandornithes" might be a case
where it should not be named, or should at least be given qualifying
clauses.) Once the phylogeny is better understood, things stabilize.
The usage of the nomenclature reflects the status of the science
Mike Keesey