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Re: Pantydraco and the worst dinosaur name

If species do not exist for microbiological organisms, somebody might want to 
notify the microbiologists, as they name and describe many species. Sure, 
species do not exist as dimorphic sexual diploid populations for most microbes, 
but that is just begging the question. That is fur and feathers bias: take what 
is common for animals and project it to all life. Even botanists do not think 
that is a good way to define species.

Microbes cluster their genomes about a wild-type, just like "proper" species 
do. They do this for many reasons, which boil down to chance, adaptive niche 
occupancy, or the ability to regularly share large parts of their genomes 
(especially plastids) in a functional manner. These are, I submit (and have 
published) the very same explanations for animal species. To assert that 
"species" doesn't make sense except in metazoans and metaphytes is 
provincialism of the highest order. It is in effect to say that most life 
doesn't come in kinds, which is self-evidently false. Sure, they have their own 
modalities of being species, but that's as much an evolved trait as legs or 

The requirement that bacterial species should be culturable is a technical 
rather than a theoretical requirement, one that is under challenge as 
metagenomic studies appear to show that less than 10% of bacterial species are 
culturable, since they are tied into obligate commensuality with other species 
in bacterial communities. This is surely a flaw of assay rather than the things 
themselves. We once couldn't identify the various distinct Leopard Frog species 
either, until we had the assay techniques to do so. They were still species.

On 13/03/2011, at 1:07 PM, Dan Chure wrote:

> Given what I have read about microbiology, I might humbly suggest that 
> prokaryotes in general represent a stage in life where the "species" has yet 
> to evolve. The concept just may not be explicable. Sapp's "The New 
> Foundations of Evolution on the Tree of Life" is an interesting read on the 
> history of prokaryote species, classification, and their phylogenetic 
> systematics.
> Dan
> On 3/12/2011 3:12 AM, David Marjanovic wrote:
>>> When it comes to the naming of prokaryotes, the International Code
>>> of Nomenclature of Bacteria (ICNB) is prepared to hold its authors to
>>> a much higher standard (Rule 57a: "Any name or epithet should be
>>> written in conformity with the spelling of the word from which it is
>>> derived and in strict accordance with the rules of Latin and
>>> latinization.) Not only do new bacterial names come with a complete
>>> etymology (including gender), but also a recommended pronunciation.
>> That said, the ICNB has such strict requirements for naming new species that 
>> microbiologists do not routinely name new ones the way many zoologists and 
>> quite a few botanists do. To name a species under the ICNB, you first need 
>> to cultivate it under laboratory conditions -- and for many known taxa that 
>> anyone would immediately want to name as a species, this is plainly not 
>> possible, at least not yet --, and then you need to publish the name in one 
>> particular journal because it's not valid otherwise. In fact, the ICNB has 
>> an official candidate status for names, and even that isn't easy to reach.
>> And are those "rules of [...] latinization" written down anywhere?
>>> In so many respects, the ICZN is well behind the ICNB.
>> The historical development has of course gone in the opposite direction -- 
>> the Strickland Code even prescribed one single way to transcribe Greek.

John Wilkins | john@wilkins.id.au
"Were all men philosophers, the business of life could not be executed, and
neither society, nor even the species, could long exist." William Smellie, 1791
Species: A history of the idea http://www.ucpress.edu/books/pages/11391.php