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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: david.marjanovic@gmx.at
> To: dinosaur@usc.edu
> Subject: Re: Sauropodz r kewl WAS: silly conversation on 2012 US presidential 
> race
> > 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...