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Darwin-L Message Log 8:106 (April 1994)

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.


<8:106>From DARWIN@iris.uncg.edu  Sat Apr 30 17:35:50 1994

Date: Sat, 30 Apr 1994 18:36:09 -0500 (EST)
From: DARWIN@iris.uncg.edu
Subject: Extinction (biological and linguistic) in the _Chronicle of Higher Ed_
To: darwin-l@ukanaix.cc.ukans.edu
Organization: University of NC at Greensboro

One of the phenomena that is familiar across the historical sciences is the
phenomenon of extinction, and there were two interesting articles on
extinction this month in the _Chronicle of Higher Education_ that may be of
interest to some Darwin-L members.  Although they were in separate issues,
they could almost have been published together as a pair.  They might make
interesting reading for students in either linguistics or natural history
courses as an illustration of some of the common features of the historical
sciences.

The first article was "Charting Biodiversity" by Kim A. McDonald in the 13
April 1994 issue (p. A8ff).  It is better than many of its kind, from my
point of view, because it places some emphasis on evolution and on the
importance of historical knowledge for the rest of biology, instead of
making systematists appear to be little more than pharmaceutical
technicians.  Among the people quoted in the article is Darwin-L member Mike
Donoghue: "'Charting the biosphere does not just entail a description of
species,' says Michael J. Donoghue, a professor of biology at Harvard
University, 'but also refers to understanding how species are related to one
another -- that is, how they are connected through common ancestry.'"

The second was "The Death of Languages" by David L. Wheeler in the 20 April
1994 issue (also p. A8ff).  It describes the many languages that are in the
process of disappearing and the urgent need to document them.  "Up to half
of the world's 6000 languages will die out in a similar fashion during the
next century, estimates Michael Krauss, a professor of linguistics at the
University of Alaska at Fairbanks".

Bob O'Hara, Darwin-L list owner

Robert J. O'Hara (darwin@iris.uncg.edu)
Center for Critical Inquiry and Department of Biology
100 Foust Building, University of North Carolina at Greensboro
Greensboro, North Carolina 27412 U.S.A.

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