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

Augusto Haro <augustoharo@gmail.com> wrote:

> This may have been said many times, but to me, phylogenetics should
> avoid names such as "Pisces" and the informal term "fish". Not only
> because fish is used for a lot of animals which are not even
> chordates, as David states. 

Three things, briefly:

(1) Nobody (least of all me) is advocating a return of the name Pisces as a 
phylogenetic clade.  I only mentioned the name Pisces because the content of 
this now-defunct group matches the traditional meaning of the word 'fish', in a 
collective sense.

(2) Although the word 'fish' is applied beyond non-tetrapod vertebrates (e.g., 
jellyfish, crayfish, silverfish, starfish, etc), these organisms tend not to be 
referred to as 'fishes' in a collective sense.  Biology is littered with 
similar examples: water bear, sea moth, horned toad, ant lion, etc.  The 
collective term 'bear' continues to be applied to members of the family 
Ursidae, despite the fact that we also have water bears and the koala bear, 
both of which belong outside this family.  

(3) Although the word 'shellfish' tends to blur the lines, this term has an 
explicit culinary meaning, not a biological one.