Re: define species was Re: Modern Neanderthals?

Lorenzo L. Love (
28 Oct 1996 19:57:23 GMT

Phillip Bigelow <> wrote:
>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.
> <pb>

Look up the history of taxonomy. Social factors affect every thing that
we social animals do. Most of the Homo sapien neanderthalensis verus Homo
neanderthalensis argument rest on social factors. Neandertals were at one
time considered far too primitive to be a human ancestor. Paleontologists
are as prone to pick and chose their facts as much as anyone else. Look
at Eoanthropus dawsoni (Piltdown Man) or Hesperopthecus haroldcookii
(Nebraska Man). These are both good examples of self deception based on
social preconceptions. It is far easier to overlook or to exaggerate
small differences in morphology then it is to overcome the preconceptions
we grew up with.

Lorenzo L. Love