Lumper or Splitter - Species?

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Lumper or Splitter

Lumper
2
13%
Splitter
6
40%
I don't do polls
7
47%
 
Total votes: 15

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Kitsune
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Lumper or Splitter - Species?

Post by Kitsune »

Curious, when it comes to species, do you tend to be a lumper or splitter?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lumpers_and_splitters

I tend to be a lumper. . . .
For example, I think we may be classifying hominids (Especially the homo lineage) into far too many actual species.
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Re: Lumper or Splitter - Species?

Post by Alyrium Denryle »

Kitsune wrote:Curious, when it comes to species, do you tend to be a lumper or splitter?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lumpers_and_splitters

I tend to be a lumper. . . .
For example, I think we may be classifying hominids (Especially the homo lineage) into far too many actual species.
And why would that be? They are clearly morphologically distinct, which is a dead-ringer for being genetically distinct when you get into mammal skeletal structures. The usually lived in different times and or locations.

The biological species concept is wrong. It is a rule of thumb that works really well for birds, and a general but not immutable guideline for everything else. I can take two toads, one from the US, and the other from fucking Egypt, and they will be able to reproduce, even though they have been distinct lineages for millions of years.

What matters is whether or not two proposed species are evolutionarily distinct from eachother.
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Re: Lumper or Splitter - Species?

Post by Kitsune »

From what I have read, is is much up to interpretation
One paleontologist may put a fossil in Homo ergaster or Homo rudolfensis while another may put it in early Homo erectus and another may put it in late Homo habilis
In the same regard, a fossil may be put by one palaeontologist in late Homo erectus while another may put it in Homo heidelbergensis.
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Re: Lumper or Splitter - Species?

Post by Purple »

I am not actually sure. The more I think about it the more I can cite examples of my self exhibiting both kinds of behavior. A conundrum to be sure.
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Re: Lumper or Splitter - Species?

Post by Borgholio »

Thing is that human evolution (as with many other species) has been gradual. You have a slow increase in height, upright-walking ability and brain size...along with a decrease in the ridged forehead, body hair, tooth size, etc...

I cannot recall any single evolutionary trait that was so distinct and abrupt that it can act as a clear dividing line between all the subspecies of human that have been created. For instance, if we just compare Homo Ergaster with Homo Sapiens, we have a clear divide. But in between we have many other Homo species such as Erectus (which may be an offshoot), Habilis, Rudolphensis, etc... which blur the line.
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Re: Lumper or Splitter - Species?

Post by Kitsune »

Other item I wanted to add is fi all we had from dogs were fossils, how many species would we break them into?
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Re: Lumper or Splitter - Species?

Post by Borgholio »

Definitely certain species that are obviously different, such as German Shepherd vs Chihuahua. But I'm not sure about breeds that are similar...or mutts for that matter.
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Re: Lumper or Splitter - Species?

Post by Alyrium Denryle »

Kitsune wrote:From what I have read, is is much up to interpretation
One paleontologist may put a fossil in Homo ergaster or Homo rudolfensis while another may put it in early Homo erectus and another may put it in late Homo habilis
In the same regard, a fossil may be put by one palaeontologist in late Homo erectus while another may put it in Homo heidelbergensis.

That is because late H. erectus was very very much like Heidelbergensis, which evolved from it. Depending on the region. Shock! Gasp! It is almost as if species are not morphologically static! It is also really hard to distinguish between the skulls of two closely related mammals, to say nothing of when those same skulls have been warped by a few hundred thousand years of geological time and pressure.
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Re: Lumper or Splitter - Species?

Post by Alyrium Denryle »

Borgholio wrote:Definitely certain species that are obviously different, such as German Shepherd vs Chihuahua. But I'm not sure about breeds that are similar...or mutts for that matter.
Dogs are the same species. Canines just have really unimaginably flexible genomes that can create huge polymorphisms. They are particularly strange in that respect.
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Re: Lumper or Splitter - Species?

Post by Borgholio »

Alyrium Denryle wrote:
Borgholio wrote:Definitely certain species that are obviously different, such as German Shepherd vs Chihuahua. But I'm not sure about breeds that are similar...or mutts for that matter.
Dogs are the same species. Canines just have really unimaginably flexible genomes that can create huge polymorphisms. They are particularly strange in that respect.
Quite true, but looking just by the fossils you'd never be able to tell that. They'd look like different species for sure just going by skeletons and not looking at the genome.
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Re: Lumper or Splitter - Species?

Post by Kitsune »

Alyrium Denryle wrote:
Kitsune wrote:From what I have read, is is much up to interpretation
One paleontologist may put a fossil in Homo ergaster or Homo rudolfensis while another may put it in early Homo erectus and another may put it in late Homo habilis
In the same regard, a fossil may be put by one palaeontologist in late Homo erectus while another may put it in Homo heidelbergensis.

That is because late H. erectus was very very much like Heidelbergensis, which evolved from it. Depending on the region. Shock! Gasp! It is almost as if species are not morphologically static! It is also really hard to distinguish between the skulls of two closely related mammals, to say nothing of when those same skulls have been warped by a few hundred thousand years of geological time and pressure.
And that is why I tend to be a lumper :D
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Re: Lumper or Splitter - Species?

Post by Alyrium Denryle »

Kitsune wrote:
Alyrium Denryle wrote:
Kitsune wrote:From what I have read, is is much up to interpretation
One paleontologist may put a fossil in Homo ergaster or Homo rudolfensis while another may put it in early Homo erectus and another may put it in late Homo habilis
In the same regard, a fossil may be put by one palaeontologist in late Homo erectus while another may put it in Homo heidelbergensis.

That is because late H. erectus was very very much like Heidelbergensis, which evolved from it. Depending on the region. Shock! Gasp! It is almost as if species are not morphologically static! It is also really hard to distinguish between the skulls of two closely related mammals, to say nothing of when those same skulls have been warped by a few hundred thousand years of geological time and pressure.
And that is why I tend to be a lumper :D

Except they are different species. Because when well preserved specimens are found, those that are not warped, they are clearly different. Once you get into early/late species issues, it does not indicate that they are the same. To wit. Your logic is like declaring 2 and 3 to be identical, because your measurement tools are too imprecise to distinguish between 2.4 and 2.6
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Post by Vehrec »

The problem with Lumping, as I see it, is that it requires some awfully strange compression. For example, most of the Galapagos finches would collapse into just three or fewer species if interbred-which they can do successfully, but rarely attempt in nature or captivity. And since species don't appear from nowhere, if you're a bit squeamish about cutting mid-change, where the heck will you cut one species into two?

Then again, species is one of those words, like life, which everyone understands the meaning of, but nobody can define in a way that makes everyone happy.
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Re: Lumper or Splitter - Species?

Post by Simon_Jester »

Also, lumping produces very strange results when dealing with, for example, ring species. The famous case of the Larus gulls comes to mind- we currently identify seven populations, living in a circle around the North Pole at high latitude. Each is mutually interfertile with at least one immediate neighbor, but with the "westernmost" and "easternmost" populations are NOT mutually interfertile.

If we are serious about 'lumping' then that is one species, with an inexplicable thing going on where one part of the species is infertile with one of the others. But that itself undermines our concept of what a species means... so we divide each visibly distinct subpopulation as its own species, acknowledging that yes there can be such a thing as a fertile interspecies hybrid.
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Re: Lumper or Splitter - Species?

Post by Alyrium Denryle »

Simon_Jester wrote:Also, lumping produces very strange results when dealing with, for example, ring species. The famous case of the Larus gulls comes to mind- we currently identify seven populations, living in a circle around the North Pole at high latitude. Each is mutually interfertile with at least one immediate neighbor, but with the "westernmost" and "easternmost" populations are NOT mutually interfertile.

If we are serious about 'lumping' then that is one species, with an inexplicable thing going on where one part of the species is infertile with one of the others. But that itself undermines our concept of what a species means... so we divide each visibly distinct subpopulation as its own species, acknowledging that yes there can be such a thing as a fertile interspecies hybrid.
Yep. We have a winner. Ensatina Salamanders are the same thing, distributed in the mountains surrounding the San Joaquin valley. Each species is monophyletic, adapted to different conditions, but can interbreed (creating a hybrid zone) with its nearest neighbor in the ring.
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Re: Lumper or Splitter - Species?

Post by Simon_Jester »

Of course, this runs into problems when, for example, it is probably functionally impossible to get a viable chihuahua/Great Dane hybrid, even with artificial insemination. For all I know, if we analyzed modern dogs we'd find that THEY form a sort of elaborate interlinked set of rings and patterns- I heard the word 'superspecies' used once- which we pretty much speciated by brute force by selectively breeding for all sorts of weird traits.
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