Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Is taxonomy intrinsic or a human invention

  1. Apr 19, 2007 #1
    is taxonomy an intrinsic property of life, or a human way to look at it?

    I think, especially with asexual species, that it is really a human invention, not an actual property of life. However, certain things fit well. what do you think?
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 20, 2007 #2

    jim mcnamara

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    Originally, taxonomy was created cladistically. Meaning the "relationships"
    were derived from abitrary human observations.

    With DNA sequencing it is now possible to have phylogenetic (actual family tree) categorization of species. For example, the Lotus (water lily) plant family was moved away from a place in the tree that had it next to roses.
    It's closest living relative turns out to be the plane trees (sycamore). This line of descent thing is an actual property of living things.

    The fuzz you are referring to is the fact that our definition of species is not and likely will never be perfect.
     
  4. Apr 24, 2007 #3
    so the idea of trying to force all of life into distinct categories is ... human?

    I understand all the phylogenetic tree stuff...
     
  5. Apr 25, 2007 #4

    jim mcnamara

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    Sure. Have you ever seen a face in the clouds? One of our human survival abilities is to use mental templates to identify things. Some templates, like face identification appear to be hard-wired. We can't not do it, in other words. It's a good survival thing to see a tiger face staring at you so you can run away, instead of becoming tiger chow.

    Categorization is something humans have an innate desire/ability to do.
    And we can create them when in reality there is no category. Only a perceived one.
     
  6. Apr 25, 2007 #5
    alright, thats what i thought. thanks!
     
Know someone interested in this topic? Share this thread via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook

Have something to add?



Similar Discussions: Is taxonomy intrinsic or a human invention
  1. Taxonomy question (Replies: 1)

  2. Shell Taxonomy info? (Replies: 1)

  3. A Human or Not? (Replies: 2)

Loading...