Message 2001-06-0003: Nomina Conversa

Wed, 11 Apr 2001 05:17:28 -0400 (EDT)

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Date: Wed, 11 Apr 2001 05:17:28 -0400 (EDT)
From: "T. Mike Keesey" <>
To: -PhyloCode Mailing List- <>
Subject: Nomina Conversa

In correspondences with people who are against phylogenetic taxonomy, it
seems to me that one of the key turn-offs of PT is the radical changing of
certain traditional taxa. Indeed, when I first heard about PT, that really
turned me off to it, and I had to look past it to see all the benefits.
I really think that a lot of people would open their minds to it if
certain names were dropped from PT.

Two specific ones in mind:

_Reptilia_: Clade(_Chelonia_ + _Lacerta_ + _Crocodylus_) is pretty
different from the traditional usage (non-mammalian, non-avian _Amniota_).
A big chunk has been removed (_Synapsida_) and a big chunk has been added
(_Aves_). Furthermore, "reptile" is a very widespread vernacular term (in
English, anyway) with strong connotations of cold-blooded, scaly animals.
Finally, the meaning ("creepers") doesn't fit many of the members
(_Pterosauria_ and _Dinosauria_, for example) well at all.

(Okay, the first argument is the primary one here; feel free to ignore the
other two.) Couldn't the clade be named Neosauropsida or Eureptilia or
something, the word "reptile" left as an informal term for ectothermic
amniotes, and the taxon "Reptilia" dropped?

_Osteichthyes_: Why do we need the "-ichthyes" part? Why not call the
clade Ostei and let "Osteichthyes" drop, as so many other paraphyletic
taxa have been dropped?

It seems to me that changes like these would make PT a LOT more palatable
to many people, thus expanding the audience. I understand the rationale
behind the crown clade definitions, and if everyone else agreed to use
them that way, I'd have no problem with it. But a lot of people find these
difficult to swallow.

Of course, a line has to be drawn somewhere. It's my feeling that such
converted names as _Dinosauria_, _Theropoda_, _Coelurosauria_,
_Synapsida_, and _Therapsida_ probably are a good idea. (Yes, the argument
I made about the popularity of the term "reptile" applies to "dinosaur" as
well, but people misuse "dinosaur" a lot, even in the traditional sense.
Furthermore, there were proposals to place Aves in Dinosauria under the
Linnaean system.)


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