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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 <email@example.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.