What are some of the challenges of systematics and taxonomy?
Should a biologist’s classification be taken as absolute, inviolable truth? In your opinion, is taxonomy necessary and/or important? Why or why not?
Taxonomy is the science of naming and classifying organisms. One of the earliest challenges faced by scientists in taxonomy was that each organism, everywhere you traveled, had more than one name. Not only was this making factual communication more difficult, but it was also an issue that there was not much information on each organism. This lack of organization slowed many processes, and made it more difficult to seek out connections between organisms (systematics) that would later benefit scientific research of all types. Systematics is the discovery and research of the relationships between species based on the use of data; this includes data from (but not limited to) fossils, genes, and even molecules like proteins.
Although these studies are all based off of researched facts, I do not think that any classifications should be thought of as an inviolable truth. It is impractical to assume that just because one has a piece of the puzzle, that they can guess the rest of the picture correctly. There is always more to be discovered, things aren’t usually what they seem at first. I am a firm believer that everything can and should be challenged, and eventually, having disputed everything one thought they knew, they’ll be left with only the burden of pure truth. In my personal opinion, I do believe that taxonomy plays an important role in science, and in everyday life; how functional could we be if everyone had their own word for lion, or duck, and nobody could truly communicate? Aside from this, (assume we all had one word for each organism and communication was not an issue), how could we develop medicines and discover natural cure-alls if we had no understanding of the relationships between organisms. Ignorance is bliss until you accidentally kill yourself because you had no idea you were consuming substances toxic to humans. Understanding both how we affect others, and how others affect us is crucial to a healthy life, and vital to a functioning society, as well as the planet as a whole.