[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index][Subject Index][Author Index]

Schroedinger's Genera (Was: Some silly questions)

David Marjanovic writes:
 > - Genera don't exist. For the purposes of nomenclature, we have to
 > pretend they exist (as long as the PhyloCode isn't implemented
 > yet), but they still don't exist.

I completely agree.

Until the time came when I had to name a new taxon.  Then I suddenly
realised that genera _do_ exist after all.

Once I'd submitted the manuscript, though, I realised that I was right
in the first place, and they do not exist after all.  Until next time.

Problem is, principles and pragmatics collide with a resounding thud

It's occurred to me in the past that when naming something it would be
cool just to say "Awesomesaurus new taxon" without commenting at all
on whether it's a genus, species, clade, whatever.  The taxon would
just be the type specimen plus a cloud of "sufficiently similar"
things close to it.  Then I realised that that's exactly what a genus
actually is (for fossils anyway).

There are AMNH papers that name new taxa and just say "tax. nov."; the
problem is that they still end up defining a binomial so that their
names can be recognised by the ICZN, so in the end that have still
defined a genus (and type species).

The bottom line is that, for Mesozoic dinosaurs at least, the "genus"
is the non-clade uninomial taxon we're all wanting.  The type-species
name is just a bit of obligatory decoration.

 _/|_    ___________________________________________________________________
/o ) \/  Mike Taylor    <mike@indexdata.com>    http://www.miketaylor.org.uk
)_v__/\  "Thou shalt run `lint' frequently and study its pronouncements
         with care, for verily its perception and judgement oft exceed
         thine" -- Henry Spencer's 1st Commandment for C Programmers.