All posts tagged with taxonomy

Quote: Colin Groves on primate species

less than 1 minute read

In 2001, the Australian zoologist Colin Groves published an essay in the journal Evolutionary Anthropology giving his perspective on classification in primat...

McKenna and Bell on ranked categories

9 minute read

I learned mammalian systematics and cladistics around the same time that Malcolm McKenna and Susan Bell published their 1997 book, Classification of Mammals:...

Apes and monkeys in etymology

4 minute read

In scientific English, today we often distinguish between “monkeys” and “apes” in a meaningful way. Apes are the tail-less primates of the Old World that are...

Australopithecus prometheus: is it real?

28 minute read

Lee Berger and I have a new article out in the American Journal of Physical Anthropology that looks at what may be the biggest issue in hominin taxonomy for ...

Dinosaur phylogeny woes

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This is a nice write-up by Laura Geggel of a current exchange of comments in Nature about dinosaur phylogeny: “Dino Family Tree Overturned? Not Quite, But Ch...

Genomes of straight-tusked elephants

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Earlier this month in eLife, Matthias Meyer and colleagues published a cool paper: “Palaeogenomes of Eurasian straight-tusked elephants challenge the current...

Too many dinosaurs

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Maggie Koerth-Baker has a very nice piece in FiveThirtyEight about the high proportion of dinosaur genus names that have eventually been discarded over the y...

Link: Barbara King reviews Jon Marks

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Barbara King discusses Jon Marks’ new book, Tales of the Ex-Apes: How We Think about Human Evolution, on her NPR blog: “Are We Ex-Apes? A Story Of Human Evol...

Popularity of hominin species names

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I was curious about the use of Homo ergaster over time. It seems to me that fewer and fewer paleoanthropologists have been using it over the last few years. ...

How to use scientific names

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Dave Hone has a short explainer with persnicketyness about the proper use of taxonomic names for species: “What’s in a name? Why scientific names are importa...

Mailbag: The hominins of our discontent

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Re: “Taxonomy on tap”, where I reminded readers about my lack of a principled reason to continue using “hominid” instead of “hominin”.

Taxonomy on tap

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Annalee Newitz, in io9: “The last time we redefined what it means to be human”:

Taxonomy through art

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Within paleoanthropology, we often witness taxonomic clashes. Species that were named on the basis of a single fossil are later discarded. Now with genomics,...

Primate classification and phylogeny

7 minute read

Our relationship to other kinds of primates is in part reflected by the pattern of similarities and differences we share with them. This pattern of similarit...

A problem of fuzzy mammoths

10 minute read

Paleogenomics is changing the way we study evolution. In a number of cases, it now allows us to study extinct organisms with the same methods as we study liv...

Split lumps

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The Friends of Darwin blog notes that the terms “lumpers” and “splitters” in taxonomy go back to Darwin’s time. The example is a letter Darwin received from ...


less than 1 minute read

Darren Naish has written a nice discussion of the taxonomic difficulties of Iguanodon. It’s a guest post at the Scientific American blog. Dinosaurs and homin...

The failures of dinosaur splitters

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A-HA! We all lecture in our classes about the perils of naming too many species, but now the facts have been statistically proven! Well, at least for dinosau...

An ape by any other name

4 minute read

As usual, I was looking for something else – this time in the writing of Henry Fairfield Osborn – and came across an interesting paper that he delivered as a...

Quote: Higher-level taxa

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I ran across this passage in a book chapter by D. Tab Rasmussen, covering early catarrhine evolution. I think it captures an important point about the fossil...

Woronso-Mille: A ladder not a bush

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In a new paper, Yohannes Haile-Selassie and colleagues describe new hominin fossils from Woranso-Mille, Ethiopia. A good thing: It gives somebody like me a r...

Forced by a pterosaur

less than 1 minute read

I can’t get over the subhead of this story about a new car-sized pterosaur:

PhyloCode and human evolution

23 minute read

The April issue of Discover has a feature article on PhyloCode, focusing on the roles of Jacques Gauthier and Kevin de Queiroz in trying to revise the code ...

Species concepts

10 minute read

A new population that results from a speciation event is called a species. But although species result from a simple process, recognizing species in nature ...