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RE: Sauropodz r kewl WAS: silly conversation on 2012 US presidential race
hoping the paragraph breaks don't vanish again.
> Date: Wed, 18 Apr 2012 04:35:57 +0200
> From: email@example.com
> To: firstname.lastname@example.org
> Subject: Re: Sauropodz r kewl WAS: silly conversation on 2012 US presidential
> > House cats and pumas and fishing c=
> > ats all have a similarity to one another=2C just like tigers to lions=2C bu=
> > t neither is particularly close to cheetahs=3B thus=2C cheetahs are alone i=
> > n their genus (all their siblings are dead). Similarly=2C field mice have=
> > extant relatives all over the place=2C cladistically...tuataras=2C aardvar=
> > ks and pangolins don't. The way I learned it=2C ranks also demonstrate how =
> > distinct something is from everything else.
> They pretend to do that, too, but they don't. That's because "distinct"
> has never been quantified.
Quantified? Okay...let's have a little contest, then, you and I:
We each take a blank sheet of paper (any size), and write down all the extant
organisms as closely related to the tuatara as mice are related to muskrats.
That doesn't sound like a good deal, does it? Because sometimes things *are*
distinct and separate. (I might need a yardstick to tell me if the Alps are
bigger than the Grand Canyon, but I don't need a yardstick to tell me the
Atlantic is broader than the Mississipi and the Rhine)
> Oh, there have been a few extremely short-lived attempts to define ranks
> as times of origins of taxa: everything that originated in the
> Cretaceous would become, I don't know, an order, and so on.
I believe the technical response is "WTF?"
> In addition
> to the obvious problems, _any_ such scheme would cause such enormous
> upheaval that you might just as well abandon ranks altogether...