[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index][Subject Index][Author Index]

Re: Caudipteryx suffered from osteoarthritis

On Fri, Jan 6, 2012 at 11:59 AM, Scott Hartman
<skeletaldrawing@gmail.com> wrote:
> Yet now people (and frequently the very same people) argue that
> phylogenetic nomenclature is all well and good in its place, but it's
> ok to use terms like bird, fish, etc., in ways that have no connection
> to the actual organisms and their evolution. Despite the fact that
> this creates an entire second tier of "informal" nomenclature, and
> we're forced to try and remember the different ways people might use
> those terms and how it relates to actual biological findings.
But there has always been an entire tier of informal nomenclature.
It's called vernacular English. There is no governing body to define
the words "bird" or "fish" other than perhaps individual dictionaries.
The ICZN has no opinion on the definition of "bird", not does
Phylocode. What clade does "bird" correspond to? Aves? Avialae? Where
is this defined? What clade does "fish" correspond to? Actinopterygii?

Nobody is forcing anybody to remember the various ways vernacular
terms are used. In fact some guy named Carl von Linne, hundreds of
years ago, invented a system to circumvent the rampant conflicting
usages of common names so that scientists wouldn't have to remember
those different usages. It's not his problem that scientists still
continue to use them in place of precisely defined terms in the

It's not the people who refuse to consistently use the term "bird" for
one clade or another that create the problem, it's people who refuse
to use definite terms avian, avialan, etc. in scientific papers so
everybody knows what they are talking about, instead preferring
vernacular common names like birds, which could mean anything.

"But really, if somone described arthritis in a squirrel, and said it
was a bird, they're get canned."

Bad analogy. More like if someone described arthritis in a squirrel
and said it was a varmint. They might still get canned, but it
wouldn't be because they were incorrect.