Field of Science

Odds and Sods

The International Institute for Species Exploration, a cybertaxonomy project based at Arizona State University in the US, has released their State of Observed Species (SOS) report tallying the number of new species described in 2006, and a list of the Top Ten Species described in 2007. The report found some 16,969 new species of organism described in 2006 (which is almost certainly a little short, because many species get named in small circulation journals and such that may not have been checked). That's nearly fifty species a day, with no sign of slowing down any time soon. The Top Ten list has garnered a bit of criticism, but ultimately, yes, it is a piece of publicity. My personal favourite on the list, because it highlights just how little we know about the planet's biodiversity, has to be the new mushroom described from a university campus in London.

Another notable recent event has been the that the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology has released its judgement on the allegations of unethical conduct involving Spencer Lucas (see Mike Taylor's webpage for the background and other comments on this sordid little affair). The SVP's decision does seem ultimately to have been a political one - the committee felt that unethical conduct on the part of Lucas et al. could not be unequivocally proven, but they do lay down guidelines for avoiding such 'misunderstandings' in the future. I feel it is worth stressing that, similar to what I said earlier about the ICZN in relation to this incident, the SVP is not a legal body, and their concern is more with promotion and facilitation of comunication between researchers than with judging guilt. Mickey Rowe has written a detailed blow-by-blow critique of the decision (and for the most part I'd just like to say "What Mickey said"), and you can also read Kevin Padian's response.

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Markup Key:
- <b>bold</b> = bold
- <i>italic</i> = italic
- <a href="">FoS</a> = FoS