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Geoff Read gread at actrix.gen.nz
Thu Nov 4 05:31:57 EST 1999

> Taxonomic ranks are purely man made and have no meaning in nature. 

Sure they're constructs, but the higher levels still have  meaning and 
utility for many, despite the new world of cladistic-everything. A lot of 
what we do, in biology and outside, is by agreed convention of the peer 
group. The constructs of our minds are given artificial but defined limits, 
because it makes communication of ideas possible and simple, and 
divides the natural world into the nice mentally-digestible chunks we love. 
Species, Genera, Families (regulated by code), and indeed Phyla (usage 
by consensus) are convenient as shorthand for everyday practical 
needs. I personally couldn't give a $#!@* for the rest of the possible 
Linnaean ranks.  'Class' as a term is a bit of a problem area at the 
moment, and might be dropping out ot favour the most, but it's  around 
that  level of aggregation that  taxonomists set the limits of their interest - 
in the annelids at least.          

I don't think a rankless scheme will mean fewer names, fewer name 
problems. Rather the reverse.

Back to the subject. Would it be fair If I said that the  consensus at 
present of those  phylogeneticists interested in the problem  is that 
echiurans are poised somewhere very close to the annelids, hovering on 
the fringe, but that there is insufficient range of evidence to place them 
beyond doubt somewhere within the group?   

   Geoff Read <gread at actrix.gen.nz>

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