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

2010/5/3 Raptorial Talon <raptorialtalon@gmail.com>:

> members need to be weeded out. If you have a bunch of apples and
> oranges, but just want to have the apples, the solution is to remove
> the oranges from the apple pile and be done with it, not to give all
> the apples a new name because their previous association with oranges
> no longer holds true.
But I supose no one would call the mixed group "apples", but, using
common knowledge, it would be considered "apples and oranges". After
removing the oranges, it would just be "apples". No redefinition
necessary in this example.

> And where to draw the line? Let's say we look at the Carnivora, and we
> find some little herpestish thing that actually turns out to be the
> sister group to Pholidota, not a member of Carnivora. Oops, I guess
> that means the Carnivora doesn't exist, because the hypothesis that it
> consisted of all other members plus that one critter has now been
> proven false! Oh well, we'll just have to totally abandon a
> centuries-old widely-known name, because the phylogeny we presumed to
> be true was actually not. Them's the rules, and it'll be less
> confusing for people looking at the literature later on, since they
> won't associate the name of an incorrect hypothesis with a correct
> phylogeny. Right?
I would say that among scientists, it depends on the way Carnivora is
defined. I know it has a definition previous to the phylogenetic era,
but supposing not, we would have a through basis to either maintain or
reject it, depending on whether the creature is included or not in the
phylogenetic definition of the Carnivora (as well as specifiers out of
the clade). In this case, Carnivora itself is pre-phylogenetic and
surely with a typological definition, so personally I even hesitate in
accepting its usage with a phylogenetic definition (new,
phylogenetic-era definitions may better use new names, which is not
such a problem in the face of the amount of new names produced
lately). It is personal, but to me, this is more stable than creating
a new definition for an old term.