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Earth Science

As Species Decline, So Do the Scientists Who Name Them 76

tcd004 (134130) writes "Few sciences are more romantic than taxonomy. Imagine Darwin, perched over a nest of newly-discovered birds in the Galapagos, sketching away with a charcoal in his immortal journals. Yet Taxonomy is a dying science. DNA barcoding, which can identify species from tiny fragments of organic material, and other genetic sciences are pulling students away from the classical studies of anatomy and species classifications. As the biodiversity crisis wipes undiscovered species off the planet, so to go the scientists who count them."
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As Species Decline, So Do the Scientists Who Name Them

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  • Re:So what? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Xest ( 935314 ) on Friday May 09, 2014 @07:02AM (#46957549)

    The problem is that DNA sequencing doesn't mean taxonomy is now straightforward, on the contrary it's created an identity crisis as to what the subject is even meant to achieve anymore. See my post here for a broader description of what I mean: []

    It used to be simple when DNA analysis wasn't available and the actual ancestry was hidden by time, back then you could name stuff based on things that were convenient for science at the time, and people who just wanted to know what to call things alike. Nowadays there's a stark divide between the two, the science has uncovered that it's not that simple, and in doing so has uncovered the fact that taxonomy as a science would not be useful for one of the things it has been historically most useful for, which wouldn't be a problem in itself if it weren't for the fact that for it to become a true science, it needs to cast of the shackles of the general public, and the business world alike, something which as I'm sure you can imagine is quite difficult given the vested interests involved and even within the profession of taxonomy itself. Getting people to change their ways isn't easy.

"An organization dries up if you don't challenge it with growth." -- Mark Shepherd, former President and CEO of Texas Instruments