> 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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