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Re: ADV: Re: Classification: A Definition



Graydon writes:
 > >  > > You _could_ argue that TOKOTs should be abolished completely
 > >  > > and all biology done in terms of specimens and clades only.
 > >  > > But that is never going to happen and to be honest I
 > >  > > wouldn't want it to.  I like the convenient of TOKOTs.  I
 > >  > > prefer the name "Brachiosaurus" to the specimen number FMNH
 > >  > > P 25017.
 > >  > 
 > >  > How would defining "Brachiosaurus" *as* "FMNH P 25017" cause
 > >  > difficulty or information loss?
 > > 
 > > Woah!  Dude!  Radical!
 > > 
 > > I think I have to go and lie down.  I am not ready for this :-)
 > 
 > Meaning you've proposed precisely this in a paper I haven't seen? :)

Ha, no, nice idea thought.  Excuse me, I just have to ... go and do
... some typing.

:-)

 > > I see where you're coming from, but do you really want to take
 > > away the ability of field-workers in Utah to say "we've found a
 > > new Brachiosaurus specimen"?
 > 
 > Well, in practise, isn't what they're really saying much closer to
 > "we've found something, and based on the parts of it that are
 > sticking out of the rocks and various not-too-severely-weathered
 > indicators and the general cut of its jib, we think it's least
 > dissimilar to Brachiosaurus"?

Ye-es.

 > If your hypothetical Utah field-workers get their specimen out of
 > the ground, prepared, and coded, they have a testable affinity to
 > Brachiosaurus, provided there is some sort of consensus about
 > "doesn't code differently enough".
 > 
 > And you must admit achieving that consensus would provide *years*
 > of entertainment for all concerned [...]

:-)

 > [...] especially as the named specimen groups hit fifteen or fifty
 > individual specimens and some enterprising soul took more capable
 > mathematics and measuring devices to the group to see how well it
 > held up.

Well, isn't that pretty much what Kathy Forster did with
_Triceratops_?  I've not read this paper, but IIRC, she used
morphometric clumping to show that the Triceratops specimens fell
neatly out into two species, rather than the four, ten or one that had
been previously suggested.

Wow.  Just imagine having enough specimens to do that kind of thing!

 _/|_    ___________________________________________________________________
/o ) \/  Mike Taylor    <mike@indexdata.com>    http://www.miketaylor.org.uk
)_v__/\  "The sheer range of available information has complicated
         the definition of what it means to be informed.  Our general
         knowledge may have become broader but shallower" -- Mark Lawson,
         _The Guardian_