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Posted by Mark Seward on January 08, 2002 at 07:14:57:
I would respectfully disagree with the assertion regarding the validity of sub-species designation in Gila monsters. Specifically, I don’t agree with the statement that your words are “are the cold, hard, SCIENTIFIC facts”.
That statement excludes the real fact that modern scientific classification is a fabrication—a purely artificially contrivance in an attempt to better understand the world around us. That is not to say that our currently accepted system of nomenclature is not useful—it is. However, it is simply a filter that we look through to help us make sense of the world’s creatures and a vocabulary to help us talk to one another about them. It is not the relationship between organisms, but it is how we choose to define those relationships at the moment.
One only has to look at the numerous changes and revisions that have been accepted since the days of Linnaeus to see that not only does our understanding of the relationships between living organisms evolve, but our definitions regarding their classification continue to change as well. In other words, the man-made rules of classification have changed—the actual relationships between organisms haven’t (in the time period we are talking about).
That being said, I agree with your suggestion that subspecies designation in Gila monsters is problematic. However, in my mind it just a little presumptuous to claim such statements “are the cold, hard, SCIENTIFIC facts” considering the information above.