Darwin-L Message Log 4:24 (December 1993)

Academic Discussion on the History and Theory of the Historical Sciences

This is one message from the Archives of Darwin-L (1993–1997), a professional discussion group on the history and theory of the historical sciences.

Note: Additional publications on evolution and the historical sciences by the Darwin-L list owner are available on SSRN.

<4:24>From mayerg@cs.uwp.edu  Wed Dec  8 16:17:53 1993

Date: Wed, 8 Dec 1993 15:48:32 -0600 (CST)
From: Gregory Mayer <mayerg@cs.uwp.edu>
Subject: Re: Extinction
To: darwin-l@ukanaix.cc.ukans.edu

The distinction between the annihilation of a lineage and its
evolving into something else has long been recognized in biology. When a
species changes sufficiently so that its descendants are called a new
species, the ancestral species has undergone pseudoextinction.  When a
lineage is wholly wiped out, leaving no descendants, it is said to be
extinct.  There are some more subtle distinctions to be made (e.g. whether
the descendants are one or more species, and whether the ancestor may
persist alongside its descendants), but the present one will do for many
circumstances.  If (as some people claim) _Homo erectus_ evolved into
_Homo sapiens_, then _Homo erectus_ has undergone pseudoextinction;
passenger pigeons are extinct.  Latin, has therefore, undergone
pseudoextinction, whereas Tasmanian (I believe) is extinct.  Often, it is
neither important nor practical for a paleontologist to determine whether
a lineage has undergone extinction or pseudoextinction.  In such cases,
the species are referred to simply as being extinct.

Gregory C. Mayer

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