June 22, 2023
Sometimes the term species is just plain obvious: as when you have to distinguish between Goithams wasp and plant Goitrams, or porcupine mammal and porcupine cartilaginous fish.
Yes, sometimes we can draw a fairly clear line to separate two things that are not of the same kind. But in some cases, these boundaries are not entirely clear.
For the concept of species is a fluid scientific unit, far from uniform. It is not like the exact units of an analytical physicist, such as measuring distance in meters and time in seconds. In the realm of the concrete physicist, everyone works in the same unity, and there is no room for subjective realization.
But as for the most important entity in the world of the living, there is no clear agreement.
The reason for the ambiguity is the lack of a clear concept of types – there are many.
Life is ordered – fixed and finished!
In the eighteenth century, the organization of the living world was governed by a group of fanatics with plants and animals as a hobby. Swede Carl von Linne went first. It distinguished objects on the basis of appearance and for most organisms that we can see with the naked eye, this worked quite well.
This idea was called the concept of morphological species, and here animals and plants that had a more or less similar mate were put into the same group, reasonably enough!
Unfortunately, it will only get more complicated upon closer examination. Because even if two people look exactly the same, they may have fundamental differences, such as the fact that they communicate in two completely different languages, and therefore they will not have the opportunity to lure their partner to sleep.
This phenomenon is called cryptic species and was supposed to be fatal to the morphological concept of species.
How does one succeed in untangling this hidden tangle?
Many years of refinement gave rise to the biological concept of species: if two individuals can produce viable and fertile offspring, they are the same species.
This term is completely self-evident, but it leaves out an incredible number of types. There are many animals, plants, fungi, and bacteria that did not come into the world as a result of the loving cooperation of mother and father, but through the reproduction of the organism itself.
This breed is not very popular with animals, but for plants, fungi and bacteria it is natural food.
In modern times, we have had the opportunity to examine the inequalities between species in genetic material. With this, we can compare the DNA of two organisms and see how closely they are related.
Throw the strands of DNA into a centrifuge, spin up to 800 revolutions per minute and after a while a number pops up.
Then we just need to decide on the sacred number that will distinguish two types from each other. Bacterial researchers agreed that the number should be 1.3 percent.
On the other hand, researchers who work with great apes have determined that 0.3 percent is good for them. perhaps to elevate us taxonomically above our submissive relatives, the Neanderthals.
In addition, there are a lot of species terms, but none of them have been able to completely capture the difference between organisms.
Because species are an abstract concept and the frameworks we impose on them do not correspond to the real nuances we find in the living world.
Therefore, no one really knows what type it is.
sources: Complete Neanderthal genome sequence
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