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RE: Princeton Field Guide





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> Date: Fri, 1 Oct 2010 11:59:07 +0100
> From: mike@indexdata.com
> To: keenir@hotmail.com
> CC: dinosaur@usc.edu
> Subject: Re: Princeton Field Guide

> Oh, dear. We are making heavy weather of this between us, aren't we?
 
if that's a bad thing, (no idea here), I apologize.
 
but I do thank you for clearing many things up.
 
> I am pretty sure we're NOT on the same page. Let me try once more.
> Greg wrote a book "in the style of field-guide", which "does not
> include specimen numbers, diagnoses or the like". That's fine -- it's
> an legitimate and popular kind of book.
>
> HOWEVER, this book ALSO include wholesale taxonomic reassignments. I
> don't see how that can possibly be appropriate.
 
 Field Guidebooks can reassign the animals found within its pages   (such as, 
the Hellbender is part of one group of salamanders & the Hoatzin is part of one 
group of birds...but in a second or fourth edition, the Hellbender and Hoatzin 
are moved to membership in other groups of salamanders and birds respectively)
 
 
> >> I wouldn't want to name a new
> >> Diplodocus species D. docimoi and then find that it seems to be more
> >> closely related to Barosaurus, and have to rename it B. docimoi.
> >> Better just call it Novodiplos docimoi, and its name can stay the same
> >> wherever it falls out in the phylogeny.
> >
> > but if genera don't really exist, then wouldn't only the *docimoi* part 
> > remain, when it falls out/into the phylogeny?
>
> With extinct animals known from partial remains, a genus "really
> exists" about as much as a species does, i.e. not at all. It's just
> about labelling in a useful way.
>
> The bottom line is that we need to do two separate things: attach
> unambiguous names to taxa (i.e. nomenclature), and figure out how
> they're related to each other (i.e. phylogenetic analysis of one kind
> or another). Using a binomial conflates those two separate things.
> It means that when we name a new animal, we are already committing to
> a specific phylogenetic hypothesis. And that is just plain dumb when
> we all know how labile the dinosaur tree is.
 
Except you've named it *Novodiplos* because it has similarities to 
*Diplodocus*(sp), right?   So if its later discovered that *Novodiplos* is as 
far from *Diplodocus* as its possible for another sauropod to be (fooled by 
convergent evolution), would that be another reason to rename it?
 
 
> > it would stop being *Novodiplos* rather like T.rex isn't called by its old 
> > genus name (for want of a better example on my part), but the species would 
> > remain the same.
>
> No, the genus name would always have the exact same meaning. You're
> confusing this with the matter of priority.
 
only in part; I did say I didn't know of a better example.