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Re: Perfect Organisms

  • To: Multiple recipients of list AROID-L <aroid-l@mobot.org>
  • Subject: Re: Perfect Organisms
  • From: Neil Carroll <zzamia@hargray.com>
  • Date: Wed, 10 May 2000 20:23:46 -0500 (CDT)

> And with that question you reveal what few people realize - a species is
> a real entity but a STANDARD based upon the formal types designated at the
> time the name was published. It can get complicated because exceptions can
> occur (e.g., if the original types become "lost" over time) but a species
> ONLY the holotype and the paratypes.

>From that time forward, specimens are
> compared to those types and an arbitrary decision is made as to which
> species, if any, an "unknown" belongs to. Variations are legion so "best
> guesses" are all that is possible!
>     Jim Langhammer

Where I see where you are going with this I do not beleive that "arbitrary"
and "best guess" are how taxonomists work.  Many variations do occur within
a species concept BUT let us not get to liberal with the species concept
over vegatative variations or color variations. What seperates ( in the
minds of human scientists) species is sex parts......flower structure, spore
structure, or cone structure. All other characters are only useful in a
limited, circumstantial way.

For example Phyllostachys nigra (Black Bamboo) was described from a specimen
that only happened to have black culmns. Later (after a rare flowering
event) it was discovered that the Type specimen (that clone which was used
to describe the species) was actually a black culmned varient. The majority
of the individuals of this species are green culmned like most bamboo. The
point being that any time you look at vegetative characters instead of
sexual characters you tread on thin ice. The sexual structures are very
consistant (realitivly) compared to the vegatative structures of any given
species. This consistancy is not "arbitrary" or a best guess.

Actually, now that I think of it.....some taxonomists are arbitrary and
guessers..........of course none of these are aroid taxonomists.


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