Notices
Results 1 to 13 of 13

Thread: Question I have been wondering for quite some time...

  1. #1 Question I have been wondering for quite some time... 
    New Member
    Join Date
    Aug 2011
    Posts
    1
    Is it possible that the classification system we use to organize all plants and animals into their diverse groups is wrong? The reason I ask is because it seems like until very recently the way in which we established a new species was by observation of physical characteristics and location (correct me if I am wrong please). This leaves a very important issue in the system. If you have a sparrow that is small, brown with no stripes, and lives in Texas, and you have a very similar sparrow that is brown, white striped, larger and lives in Florida, we would possibly classify them as an entirely different species. If we do this for one set of animals than the same must be true of humans as well meaning that me being a large, white man would be a new species compared to a small Asian man. So I guess my question is, is there some way for the scientific community to develop a standard for what classifies as a new species based on DNA and not observation (or are they already doing this)...because to me the classification system is an outdated system that was driven by scientists desire to be able to name species themselves. Please offer any insights to this...I am not making a statement of fact, just a question and would love some answers from real scientific community members.


    Reply With Quote  
     

  2.  
     

  3. #2  
    Forum Freshman Fmp2491's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2010
    Posts
    90
    I actually really like this question and would love to know the answer as well!


    ‎"What are we doing tomorrow night?
    Same thing we do every-night Pinky - try to take over the world!"
    Reply With Quote  
     

  4. #3  
    Forum Bachelors Degree
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Posts
    420
    Dear CJ,

    It may be wrong, but it isn't as wrong as you suggest. By definition, a species must be able to interbreed and produce fertile offspring. This is why humans Homo sapiens are all classified as belonging to the same species, because they are able to interbreed and produce fertile offspring - irrespective of macroscopic phenotypes such as skin colour and bodily size. Scientists classify groups of organisms based on macroscopic phenotype and evolutionary relationships (often with the help of the fossil record) as well as DNA sequence information where it is available (a field known as molecular phylogenetics).

    The major taxonomic ranks are:

    Domain > kingdom > Phylum > Class > Order > Family > Genus > Species

    You can read more about biological classification here Biological classification - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia and about taxonomy here Taxonomy - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

    Best wishes,

    Tri.
    Reply With Quote  
     

  5. #4  
    Forum Professor jrmonroe's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2010
    Posts
    1,444
    I think scientists start with classifying species by physical characteristics, but then confirm the difference in species by their ability (or not) to breed.

    Without getting too far afield. I think you'll appreciate taking a look at some
    ecogeographic rules which show the knowledge that scientists have acquired in their work on classifying species.

    Sometimes the problem of distinguishing species can take some strange turns. Below, for example, are two parrots that turn out to be the male (L) and female (R) of the species called the eclectus parrot.

    800px-Eclectus_roratus-20030511.jpg
    (click to enlarge)
    Grief is the price we pay for love. (CM Parkes) Our postillion has been struck by lightning. (Unknown) War is always the choice of the chosen who will not have to fight. (Bono) The years tell much what the days never knew. (RW Emerson) Reality is not always probable, or likely. (JL Borges)
    Reply With Quote  
     

  6. #5  
    Moderator Moderator TheBiologista's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2008
    Posts
    2,564
    Quote Originally Posted by CJBeavers View Post
    So I guess my question is, is there some way for the scientific community to develop a standard for what classifies as a new species based on DNA and not observation (or are they already doing this)...because to me the classification system is an outdated system that was driven by scientists desire to be able to name species themselves.
    Yep, some reading for you: Cladistics
    Reply With Quote  
     

  7. #6  
    Forum Freshman Jamie Whitehouse's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2011
    Posts
    16
    Quote Originally Posted by tridimity View Post
    This is why humans Homo sapiens are all classified as belonging to the same species, because they are able to interbreed and produce fertile offspring - irrespective of macroscopic phenotypes such as skin colour and bodily size.
    I think CJ was using this truth to back up his theory on the possible classification faults, rather than actually suggesting that races could be separate species.

    Jamie
    Reply With Quote  
     

  8. #7  
    jjg
    jjg is offline
    Forum Freshman
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    Posts
    33
    But different species of geese can interbreed.
    Reply With Quote  
     

  9. #8  
    Time Lord Paleoichneum's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Washington State, USA
    Posts
    5,221
    which species are you referring to? "Geese" is a very general name applied to many different avian species.
    If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world. -Thorin Oakenshield

    The needs of the many outweigh the need of the few - Spock of Vulcan & Sentinel Prime of Cybertron ---proof that "the needs" are in the eye of the beholder.
    Reply With Quote  
     

  10. #9  
    Forum Freshman Jamie Whitehouse's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2011
    Posts
    16
    Quote Originally Posted by jjg View Post
    But different species of geese can interbreed.
    There is always great ambiguity within the biological species concept(s) - there are many examples of incipient species which are able to interbreed, but still confidently classified as different species.
    Reply With Quote  
     

  11. #10  
    jjg
    jjg is offline
    Forum Freshman
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    Posts
    33
    "which species are you referring to? "Geese" is a very general name applied to many different avian species."

    There are few pure Canadian geese left as they have interbreed with other geese creating a super goose that does not migrate.

    Even more interesting questions: Is a forest with several decidous and coniferous species one organism? If you look at there root sustems they act as a single unit.
    Reply With Quote  
     

  12. #11  
    Time Lord Paleoichneum's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Washington State, USA
    Posts
    5,221
    Actually the conifers rarely interact, especially those of Western Red Cedars, which change the chemistry of the soil so other plants are not able to survive. I guess you are talking about Branta canadensis? Form what I can find there is one closely related species which it can interbreed with B. hutchinsii, and the species becomes non-migratory if there are few predators and the climate is mild enough for overwintering.
    If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world. -Thorin Oakenshield

    The needs of the many outweigh the need of the few - Spock of Vulcan & Sentinel Prime of Cybertron ---proof that "the needs" are in the eye of the beholder.
    Reply With Quote  
     

  13. #12  
    Administrator KALSTER's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Location
    South Africa
    Posts
    8,231
    One thing to remember is that the cladistics system is entirely man-made, in the sense that it is a way for scientists to classify different animals according to characteristics and interrelatedness. The definition of what constitutes a different species is, to an extent, rough and is up for revision as new information arrives. For instance, last time I heard, some anthropologists tend to name us Homo sapiens and one of our relatives, Homo neanderthalensis. But some are of the view that we should fit within the same species and become Homo sapiens sapiens and Homo sapiens neanderthalensis respectively. Some recent evidence that humans from Eurasia interbred with them adds to the desire for the latter interpretation.

    So, cladistics is simply a tool and is not thought, even by scientists, to be some kind of inbuilt division between organisms.
    Disclaimer: I do not declare myself to be an expert on ANY subject. If I state something as fact that is obviously wrong, please don't hesitate to correct me. I welcome such corrections in an attempt to be as truthful and accurate as possible.

    "Gullibility kills" - Carl Sagan
    "All people know the same truth. Our lives consist of how we chose to distort it." - Harry Block
    "It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it." - Aristotle
    Reply With Quote  
     

  14. #13  
    Forum Freshman
    Join Date
    Jun 2011
    Location
    UK
    Posts
    76
    Just to build on what KALSTER said, the tool becomes even more redundant in microbiology as the rule of "reproduce and produce fertile offspring" becomes meaningless. Other methods such as genome AT:GC content, genome homology, serotyping and, if sequenced, direct genome to genome comparisons are used to delineate different "species" of bacteria. Additionally, as a result of horizontal/ lateral gene transfer, different "species" of bacteria co-habiting an environment may contain the same genes that confer a selective advantage for that particular environment. And if a "species" does acquire a novel set of genes, such as a pathogenicity island, drastically changing the phenotype, is it still the same species?
    Reply With Quote  
     

Similar Threads

  1. Wondering of dark matter concept
    By dalemiller in forum Pseudoscience
    Replies: 32
    Last Post: February 17th, 2011, 07:26 AM
  2. probability of wondering NOW do i exist?
    By luxtpm in forum Mathematics
    Replies: 5
    Last Post: September 2nd, 2010, 11:52 PM
  3. Wondering if anyone could help me please?
    By aidenlight in forum Physics
    Replies: 5
    Last Post: May 15th, 2008, 03:24 AM
  4. Replies: 2
    Last Post: February 4th, 2008, 05:50 PM
  5. I'm wondering
    By starlight in forum Biology
    Replies: 1
    Last Post: November 18th, 2006, 03:45 PM
Bookmarks
Bookmarks
Posting Permissions
  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •