Re: Taxonomy and speciation

From: Philip A.E. Jonkers (
Date: Wed Nov 21 2001 - 02:28:48 GMT

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    From: "Philip A.E. Jonkers" <>
    Organization: UC Berkeley
    Subject: Re: Taxonomy and speciation
    Date: Tue, 20 Nov 2001 18:28:48 -0800
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    Hi all,

    Perhaps I didn't make myself clear enough. Let me rephrase what
    I'm trying to state with my hypothesis.

    Naming related groups with a species name has obvious word-economic benefits.
    However, since organisms evolve, new types derive from existing parent
    forms. When do we say a new species has emerged? When it differs sufficiently
    from its parents form? How do we decide the proper moment of speciation?
    I believe the root of all confusion is due to our taxonous tradition applied
    to the realm of biology originally in a religious setting. If, like religions
    like us to believe, organisms remain fixed it is obviously very useful to
    label a related group of organisms. Naming things is a mental thing.
    Organisms evolve however, names stay fixed on the other hand.
    To really recognize evolution names should track evolving organisms
    as well. This is unpractical of course, and we resort to labeling species
    on hindsight, when evolution has done its job sufficiently well to yield
    a well-enough separated group of new organisms. However, it is
    impossible to give an accurate estimation when the act of speciation
    actually took place, the criteria are too ill-defined. Speciation doesn't
    occur but in the heads of the name-givers. Speciation regarded as something
    that occurs gradually over time is silly and counter-productive.

    I do not deny that organisms evolve of course.


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