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RE: ...and how ranks don't work was Re: Sauropodz r kewl

  I think it goes beyond "thinking in trees." We think in hierarchical 
categorization. We place emphasis and importance on certain points in a system, 
and prioritize those in our thinking. Other elements of the system become 
secondary, which we then prioritize relative to the remainder, excluding the 
first prioritized concept ... and so forth. This leads to thinking of trees as 
useful similes for descent (regardless of its actuality), branching in 
decisions (when the issue is not really as simple as binary responses), or in 
fact any form of progression where there are multiple potential end points. The 
primacy of the first point is foremost, and movement back and forth along a 
path leads one to prioritize the relevance of each position. We even qualify 
language as a tiered array of structures, from phonemes to vowel/consonant 
breakdown to relationship of the sounds within the phoneme or anything else, 
really. When forming a series of clauses in a sentence, we do this by placing 
primacy on the first clause, and array the remainder in a hierarchical system 
of what is meaningful (to the sentence former).

  There should be no wonder that Lamarck viewed the progression of evolution as 
towards an ideal (man), and that ontogeny recapitulated this by the seeming of 
embryos to mimic his hierarchical progression of better and better organisms. 
It shouldn't be confusing then that Linnaeus places orders of primacy on some 
groups, but less on others, as they related to their overall pleasing-ness. It 
shouldn't be surprising that I place Lamarck before Linnaeus as I intend an 
historical flow of narrative, followed by this a-historical descriptive 
sentence. There is a tier of importance given to beginning, middle and end 
(Nolan's inversion of this in _Memento_ being so offsetting and yet marvelous 
not withstanding; he still places the beginning at the end, and makes it all 
the more important that the premise is the beginning is the end, and vice 

  (The obvious problem I've made about ranks myself is that we hierarchically 
place Genus above species, rather than the reverse, which is why we use genus 
names more readily, and why their structure is so much more agonized over and 
important to us than species names, or that they form the noun to the species 
verb, when the species is intended to be more individual, more specific and 
personal than the genus, which would make the latter more general and thus 


  Jaime A. Headden
  The Bite Stuff (site v2)

"Innocent, unbiased observation is a myth." --- P.B. Medawar (1969)

"Ever since man first left his cave and met a stranger with a
different language and a new way of looking at things, the human race
has had a dream: to kill him, so we don't have to learn his language or
his new way of looking at things." --- Zapp Brannigan (Beast With a Billion 

> Date: Thu, 19 Apr 2012 13:33:44 +0200
> From: david.marjanovic@gmx.at
> To: dinosaur@usc.edu
> Subject: ...and how ranks don't work was Re: Sauropodz r kewl
> Am 18.04.2012 17:01, schrieb Anthony Docimo:
> > We've demolished groups such as Pachyderma, relocating its members
> > (rhinos, elephants, etc) to their true relatives...and yet the
> > tuatara, aardvark and pangolin are set aside in their own groups with
> > no near extant relatives. so, if there is no way to quantify it, why
> > do we keep them separate?
> Because we think in trees.
> Rhynchocephalia and Squamata are sister-groups. To put *Sphenodon* (and
> the extinct rhynchocephalians) into Squamata would just mean we'd
> confuse everyone and need to come up with a new name for what we used to
> call Squamata. Note how I wrote this without mentioning a rank once.
> As Mike Keesey explained, it works the same way for the aardvark and the
> pangolins.
> > > So the differences that make up the phyla represent 'huge'
> > > differences that accumulated over a long period of time, and
> > > therefore the phyla originated in the pre-Cambrian. Orders in the
> > > Cretaceous, etc. Again, not advocating that, but I think that's the
> > > idea behind it.
> >
> > ah, okay; yeah, that makes sense for things further away in deep
> > time.
> Only because the fossil record isn't any better. If it were, we'd run
> into the problem I just explained using birds.