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RE: Classification: A Definition
Christopher Taylor writes:
> A significant proportion of currently recognised taxa (indeed,
> probably even the _majority_ of currently recognised taxa when you
> consider invertebrates, protists, etc.) are not directly based on
> evolutionary relationships. We all hope and usually expect that
> said taxa reflect evolutionary relationships, but this has not yet
> been explicitly tested in far too many cases, and in far too many
> cases it is unlikely to be tested in the easily foreseeable
> future. In the meantime, it is very convenient to use a system of
> nested groups reflecting overall similarity, especially if we
> understand that these are yet to be tested. I personally work on
> members of an invertebrate "infraorder" that contains over 500
> species, of which probably less than twenty have been included in
> any sort of phylogenetic analysis. To have this group reduced to a
> list of _incertae sedis_ taxa would make things very difficult -
> where would I start?
This is an excellent point, and not one I've seen raised before --
which is odd, given the huge proliferation of PhyloCode-is-bad
articles out there.
> I personally would hate to see phylogeny made an obligatory part of
> taxonomy. Firstly, because there are taxa out there that are
> taxonomically distinguishable (due to possessing unique
> characters), but may not be reliably placed in a phylogenetic
> analysis at present (due to shortage of material or some such
I don't see how that is a problem, though. I have just such an animal
in the works at the moment -- clearly new, very different from
anything that already has a name, yet not resolvable with any
confidence at all below the level Neosauropoda. I'd call that
Neosauropoda incertae sedis; would you instead prefer to give it a
monogeneric family? If so, to what end?
(Mind you, it does bring to four the number of neosauropod families
known from the Weal--hey! Stop hitting me!)
/o ) \/ Mike Taylor <email@example.com> http://www.miketaylor.org.uk
)_v__/\ "Say what you like about the Church of England, it rarely
declares fatwahs. It rarely declares anything at all, in fact"
-- Andrew Rilstone.