Please disregard prior posting

Jim McKenney
Fri, 20 Feb 2004 13:54:36 PST
My last post was sent with unedited draft material attached. Please
disregard the earlier posting. The intended posting follows: 

In discussing the nature of Tulipa linifolia and Tulipa batalinii, Mark
McDonough says:
>Personally I find the two species instantly recognizable and distinct, yet 
>some schools of thought put these two entities together as synonyms.

Mark, I'll bet you find Great Danes and Chihuahuas "instantly recognizable
and distinct", yet the received wisdom is that they are the same species.

Thank you for providing an entree into one of my favorite rants. : ) 

The days are long gone when taxonomists should try to base specific
distinctions on what things look like. From the time of Plato and his
concept of the eidos (and no doubt long before that) until the end of the
nineteenth century, taxonomists routinely based their decisions on what
things looked like. No one knew any better. But once science began to
appreciate the significance of Gregor Mendel's work, things got turned
inside out. Cutting- edge biologists came to a revolutionary realization: 

Organisms are not members of the same species because they look alike. It's
the other way around: they look alike because they are members of the same
species (i.e. they look alike because they share the same gene pool). 

And it seems to me that some taxonomists, even now a century later, do not
understand the implications of this. 

Mother Nature, meanwhile, goes about her business oblivious to all of this.

Jim McKenney 

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