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Re: Magnapaulia, "new" lambeosaurine from Baja California, Mexico

Well, 'ease of use' is really what I was aiming for anyways. It's hard to keep 
track of new genera, so one might as well combine two very similar genera. And 
by 'average man', I meant paleontologist, not any dude off the street. Keeping 
the # of dinosaur genera to a conservative, but not over-lumped, amount is what 
I'm aiming for here (a sort of comprehensive taxonomic clean-up).

From: "Raptorial Talon" <raptorialtalon@gmail.com> 
To: tyazbeck@comcast.net 
Cc: "Dinosaur Mailing List" <dinosaur@usc.edu> 
Sent: Tuesday, June 12, 2012 9:12:55 PM 
Subject: Re: Magnapaulia, "new" lambeosaurine from Baja California, Mexico 

The fact that it's arbitrary is why it's not a question of science, but rather 
one of semantics and taxonomic bookkeeping. That's the point. 

The "average man" isn't a good benchmark here, because people have different 
subjective tastes and preferences when it comes to this sort of thing. E.g., 
many average people don't know that a moose is a kind of deer, yet lump many or 
even all terrestrial invertebrates together as "insects." The average man 
suffers from typological thinking that greatly hinders the ability to analyze 
phylogenetic realities. 

"Real" biodiversity, whatever it is exactly, is difficult to capture even with 
species concepts, let alone the arbitrary higher taxonomic groupings. Only 
individual taxa (or even only individual specimens) can provide an objective 
groundwork for that kind of analysis. "Species" is difficult to use, and 
anything past that is  useless because cladogenesis doesn't respect convenient 
qualitative categories. 

So, whether a given taxon is listed as monotypic or as part of a large genus 
doesn't matter in cladistics, as long as the groupings are monophyletic. Naming 
conventions should ideally reflect real patterns of ancestry, but past that 
everything is just for ease of use.