Re: define species was Re: Modern Neanderthals?

Phillip Bigelow (
Sat, 26 Oct 1996 21:52:36 -0700

Lorenzo L. Love wrote:
> "David \"Oso\" Sierra" <> wrote:
>>If two groups can successfully interbreed, dispite their
> >physilogical differences then they are, by defintion, part of the same
> >species.
> Like Canis familiaris, Canis lupus and Canis latrans? Dogs, wolfs and
> coyotes in any combination can produce fertile offspring, therefore
> they must be all the same species. Does that means the entire
> classification system is faulty?

No, just that the definition of "species" is not very well-defined.

>A chihuahua and a Saint Bernard are
> unlikey to produce a successful mating.

Actually, their offspring are indeed very fertile. But you are right;
the "job" had to be done by artificial insemination!

> Does that make them different
> species?

It would if a paleontologist was looking at their bones! In fact,
they would probably be placed in different genera!

>Social and historical factors are as important as
> the ability to interbreed.

Social factors have no place in taxonomy. There are many human
cultures; yet we are all one species.