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

Am 19.04.2012 15:27, schrieb Anthony Docimo:

> Because we think in trees.

 Danged primate ancestry. :)

No, I was trying to talk about the need for tree-thinking, the need to always keep a phylogenetic tree in mind when thinking about biology. "Nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution" (Dobzhansky 1973); "nothing in evolution makes sense without a phylogeny" (G. C. Gould & MacFadden 2002, 2004).

BTW, this means Jaime Headden's entire 6.5-kB brainstorm has missed the point. But I accept the blame for not having expressed myself more clearly.

> 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.

 Oh I understand how that's possible for a discussion between people
 who both know what the names imply.

 It's like if we held conversations in German or in Damin - we would
 each know what the other is saying and meaning...but if we want to
 tell anyone else about what we're talking about and working on, we
 would have to use a language they know: ranks.

The general public doesn't know ranks any better than the distinction between lizards and salamanders. You'll need to show (or explain) a tree to them anyway.

>>> 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.

 Who suggested birds should get their own phyla? I'm just agreeing
 that most phyla are roughly Cambrian in age.

I'm saying if we call all taxa of Cambrian age phyla, we'll have phyla within phyla within phyla within phyla within phyla.