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Re: Classification: A Definition



On Wed, May 16, 2007 at 12:21:59PM +0100, Mike Taylor scripsit:
> Botterweg, Ronald (R.B.) writes:

[snip -- this is Mike, not Ronald]

> And that is why I cordially disagree with David Marjanovic's claim
> that PN makes taxonomy obsolete.  We'll always need alpha taxonomy.

Why?

I don't see what we get from families or orders that we can't get from
clade names; "Maniraptora" the clade is a perfectly good chapter
heading, index entry, and term of reference, even if it's "Maniraptora
<cited definer> <date>" rather than "Family Maniraptora", isn't it?

>  > For example, besides the two mentioned amphibia websites, large
>  > standard works (just a few that I happen to know and use) such as
>  > Wilson & Reeder Mammal Species of the World and Walker's Mammals of
>  > the World, would become very impractical, loosing overview without
>  > classification in orders, families, etc.
> 
> A courageous approach would be to do away with chapters completely,
> and just order the entries according to a pre-order depth-first
> traversal of the hypothesised phylogeny.  But here I am using the word
> "courageous" in the Sir Humphrey Appleby sense :-)

Oh, piff -- I may not know much about dinosaurs, relatively speaking,
but I know lots about structuring information.  You can perfectly well
pick a phylogentic hypothesis, pick the resulting representative tree,
pick a sibling-level slice through the children of that tree some number
of levels down from the root, and use those clade names as your chapter
headings if you want to.  It's actually *easier* from an information
design point of view to structure a book that way than by arbitrary
buckets labelled families.

[snip]
> I truly don't know.  It certainly is awfully hard to resist them
> tempatation to write things like "... and so representatives of at
> least four sauropod families are known from the Wealden".  And
> changing that to "at least four clades" only makes things worse.

"Representatives of the sauropod clades <clade name> <cited definer>
<date>, .... are known from the Wealden" strikes me as much more useful.
Even the angiosperm worker knows what they've got and where to look up
the definitions.

-- Graydon