Message 2004-10-0176: Re: Mention of the Phylocode

Fri, 15 Oct 2004 23:06:00 +0200

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Date: Fri, 15 Oct 2004 23:06:00 +0200
From: [unknown]
To: PML <>
Subject: Re: Mention of the Phylocode

> Interesting how the authors conflated the PhyloCode with the issue =
> uninominal/binomial species names.

Did they? I just found them using species as an example of nomenclatu=
changes that are purely due to mood swings -- and not mentioning that=
PhyloCode would solve precisely this problem.

> Still, this article leads me to wonder if it isn't, finally, the ca=
ll to
> reform the ICZN. I was struck by a comment in the 1999 Code which s=
> recognition of the need to revise the Code in the near future to
> the concept of monophyly [...]

How is this supposed to work, apart from a rule against polyphyletic =
(which AFAIK does currently not exist)? Abandoning paraphyletic taxa =
mean to reduce the Linnaean system to the mere _existence_ of ranks a=
the genus level (as the vertebrate palaeontologist Michael Benton alr=
does it, putting genera next to infraclasses in his classifications).

> Phil Cantino pointed out that use of the vernacular "tetrapod" can
continue to
> refer to limbed vertebrates as workers wish with no problem in the =

Apart from being, I fear, hopelessly confusing, it could get us into =
funny situations. For example... it could be illegal. If we tried to =
fix the
meaning of "t=E9trapode", we would be usurping the job of the Acad=
Fran=E7aise; I wouldn't be surprised if that were illegal in France.
"Vernacular" doesn't only mean "English".
        This example may or may not be a wild exaggeration, but suppo=
se we
give *Tetrapoda* to the crown-group and establish "tetrapod" for a me=
mber of
the apomorphy-based clade. How will we then call a member of *Tetrapo=
da*? A
"tetrapodan", perhaps? Apart from (again) being very confusing, and
_perpetuating_ the mistakes neontologists often make in ascribing fea=
of the crown-group to a larger clade, this couldn't be translated to =
I'm not sure, but probably even translating it to French would lead t=

> "[...] These codes derive from
> centuries of debate. For all their weaknesses, they are impressive
> achievements that can be adapted to reflect new needs. [...]"

Not if it is a new need to get rid of paraphyletic taxa.

> Does the convention of attaching well-known
> names to crown clades in all cases really bestow such advantages th=
at the
> rest of the biological community will readily see the advantages an=
d adopt
> this new system? (Heck, *I* am not convinced of this, and I am pred=
> favourably to the PhyloCode.) Or will they react as these authors s=
> leaving PhyloCode supporters relatively isolated? We ignore our col=
> at our own peril; I really do not think we have the critical number=
s that
> our graduate students will multiply and spread the PhyloCode throug=
> biology in future generations, as has been suggested by some.

Well said.


Feedback to <> is welcome!