Friday, August 19, 2011

Should the species Homo sapiens be renamed?


In a letter to Nature, Julian Cribb argues that our species, Homo sapiens should be renamed.  Does the term "wise man", he asks, accurately describe a species which is
"exterminating thousands of others; releasing carbon, nitrogen and phosphorus in amounts exceeding Earth's natural cycles; devoting 50 times more resources to making weapons than to sustaining the food supply; destroying forests; degrading soil; polluting water; pillaging the oceans; and damaging the atmosphere on a planetary scale"?
Maybe not.  However, this talk of renaming the species to more accurately describe the species is just silly. This isn't 'Nam....this is taxonomy....there are rules governing the naming of species. By the very same logic we should rename the Tibetan blackbird (Turdus maximus) simply because its turds are nowhere near as large as some other vertebrate species.

Thanks to Gabrielle Russo for pointing this letter out to me.