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

Re: Definition of 'fish', & GSP is displeased ;-)

Yes, a little plain commonsense is called for here.

Plus, any human effort to bring precise order to messy reality is never going 
to be perfect, so let's live with that.

And I say that as a layperson who finds taxonomy really, really interesting. 
(So, what if I am a no-life loser? What of it? ;) )

Utopianism's "sole function is to allow its devotees to condemn what exists in 
the name of what does not." Jean-François Revel

--- On Mon, 3/5/10, Tim Williams <tijawi@yahoo.com> wrote:

From: Tim Williams <tijawi@yahoo.com>
Subject: Definition of 'fish', & GSP is displeased ;-)
To: dinosaur@usc.edu
Cc: tijawi@yahoo.com
Received: Monday, 3 May, 2010, 10:56 AM

> << In the long run, I think "fish" should be
> restricted to
> Actinopterygii. It's already slowly retreating from the
> chondrichthyans in my impression."
> I've felt that way for nigh on a decade now, and I couldn't
> agree
> more. 40,000+ species is a pretty damn good chunk of
> taxonomic and
> ecological diversity to bear that particular banner.

I would be more flexible on this point, with a view to the history of the word 
'fish', and apply it to all non-tetrapod vertebrates.  Not just 
actinopterygians (the ray-finned fishes), but also basal sarcopterygians 
(lungfishes and coelacanths) and cartilaginous fishes (sharks, rays, 
chimaeras).  Lampreys and hagfishes too.  This corresponds to the historical 
usage of 'Pisces' ("fishes").  And after all, things like hagfish and ratfish 
and lungfish lie outside the Actinopterygii.  So the word 'fish' is pretty 
entrenched in the English language for lots of non-actinopterygians.

In general, I think we can afford to be imprecise and sloppy with vernacular 
terms, such as 'fish' and 'bird' and 'worm'.  That's why we have scientific 
nomenclature: to ensure a rigorous and universal system for the naming of 
animals (and all other life-forms).

> What is wrong with people. When the topic changes change
> the damn subject 
> heading!!!!!!!

Opinion noted.  I guess threads take on a life of their own, and can sometimes 
diverge beyond their original subject lines.