Darwin-L Message Log 8:18 (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.

<8:18>From jrc@anbg.gov.au  Thu Apr  7 17:07:07 1994

From: jrc@anbg.gov.au (Jim Croft)
Subject: Re: "Cladistics" and "typology"
To: darwin-l@ukanaix.cc.ukans.edu
Date: Fri, 8 Apr 1994 09:06:32 +1000 (EST)

Iain Davidson wrote:

> Jim Croft wrote:
> >
> >I do not know about your subspecies, but mine are immutable, god-given
> >evidence of singular truth in the cosmos.
> It would have been nice to have some sort of indication of the jocular
> intent of this remark.  Otherwise I mght phone the bus company and tell
> them to "hurry up, Jim's waiting"!!! (That is my mark of jocular intent).
> What does the propensity for Eucalypts to hybridise *mean*?
> >
> >Gotta go now - there is a bus coming by in a few minutes that needs to
> >be fallen under...

I have only ever described and named two subspecies (names witheld to
protect the innocent) in my life and they have not been collected,
mentioned, looked at or even thought about by the biological or general
community in the decade and a half since the protologue was smeared on
wood pulp.  Such is the impact of science, but it seemed important at
the time...

What does the propensity for anything to hybridize mean?  In our gardens
(with over 30% of the Australian vascular flora in cultivation) we have
all manner of indecent and unnatural acts going on with things
hybridizing all over the place, events that would never happen in
nature because the taxa would never come into contact with other.  It is
because we can not trust the parentage of seeds in the gardens that we
do not produce a seed list or repropagate from our own seeds if at all
avoidable.  The catch-cry 'but they hybridize' is often used to cast
doubt and aspersion on the distinction of two taxa, but should it?
There are taxa here that are morphologically virtually indistinguishable,
have similar habitat requirements but produce pheremones that attract a
particular species of insect pollinator and their gene pools are
totally isolated - any sane person would give them the same name and put
them in the same folder in the herbarium - but should they?

For Iain, the following is serious %^|

These days I am not game to recognize the genus _Eucalyptus_, let alone
talk about species, subspecies and hybrids.  For *one* definitive (or
one *definitive*) view on the systematics and phylogeny of the
genus/genera, contact Ken Hill at the herbarium of Royal Botanic Gardens
Sydney (ken_hill@rbgsyd.gov.au - I don't think Ken reads Darwin-l).  As
can be expected, there is a diversity of strongly held ideas as to how
this group of plants with hundreds of taxa are to be arranged, how
nature got them to where they are (phylogenetically and biogeographically)
and what does it all mean? - and it not worth my life to venture an


-- jim                    URL=
Jim Croft         [Herbarium CANB & CBG]          internet: jrc@anbg.gov.au
Australian National Herbarium &                      voice:  +61-6-2509 490
Australian National Botanic Gardens               faxmodem:  +61-6-2509 484
GPO Box 1777, Canberra, ACT 2601, AUSTRALIA            fax:  +61-6-2509 599
______Biodiversity Directorate, Australian Nature Conservation Agency______
_________________Centre for Plant Biodiversity Research____________________

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