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

Re: Princeton Field Guide



> "Phylogenetic nomenclature, on the
> other hand, assumes evolution and uses 
> tree-thinking; this makes everything easier."
> 
> Problem is, it assumes (or at least works most conveniently
> with) a branching-tree model of evolution (cladogenesis); it
> has issues with anagenesis and reticulate evolution.

Problem is also that you cannot draw boundaries in an unbroken chain of descent 
except between reproductive events (essentially: between individuals). More so 
in sexually reproducing lineages.

In philosophical taxonomy, this is possibly irrelevant. But in practice? Either 
Darwin was very very wrong, or we will have to assign transitional specimens to 
taxa ever so often.

An onomatophore-based taxonomy is at an advantage here. Delimiters which are of 
zero or almost-zero spatiotemporal dimension cannot work well: 

"On what day was the first _Homo sapiens_ born?"

As soon as a taxonomic delimiter is wider than one individual, it is probably 
better to define taxa based on something AS FAR AWAY FROM NODES AS POSSIBLE and 
leave delimitation vague beyond the closest non-inferred datum. 

In essence, the problem with creationist mindset still permeating taxonomy runs 
to the core. It is not "ICxN codes vs PhyloCode". The basic idea that taxa may 
be objectively delimited *at all* is a vestige of times past.

If ICxN taxonomy was not onomatophore-based, it would have broken down long 
ago: all pre-1950s attempts in taxonomic schemes for every major group of 
organisms have been, as far as I can see it, largely demolished. Not because 
the taxon boundaries were unclear, but because clades were inferred where there 
were none. Even Linné implied that some taxa were closer to others than to 
third ones, his dedication of the "Systema" to "Jehova" nonwithstanding. Darwin 
and Wallace arrived at their ideas by describing, comparing and arranging taxa 
within the Linnean framework. 

A good cladistic analysis certainly clears up much of the murk and imprecision 
of the early evolutionary era, but we cannot hope to reconstruct THE tree of 
life anytime soon; cladistics is neither perfect nor instantaneous. IMO, it 
should be not be like a gospel book, but like a screwdriver.

"One part vodka, three parts orange juice?"
-- BetterThanCaesar, /.


Regards,

Eike