Originally posted by Inanna
What if science had not given all these names to everything. Would a cat then be the same thing as a lion?
Heh. It doesn't matter if we call the cat a Baryliptus Paraprotoli and the lion a Pendiculous Rastafarian. The difference between genera (members
of different "genuses") and species is genetic.
Within a genus, you can USUALLY crossbreed two animals. For instance, you may think a zebra is just a "stripey horse" but in fact there are three
living kinds of zebras and they all have different numbers of chromosomes: Grevy's zebras have 46 chromosomes, Mountain zebras 34 and Plain's zebras
44. So they're stripey horse-things and they're related to each other. You can breed them to each other or to other equines like donkeys and
horses. They will produce offspring, but these are almost always sterile.
But you can't cross an elephant with a rhino, or a horse with a cow... or a human with a chimp, for that matter.
So in taxonomy, you have the animal kingdom (which basically means "things that are alive and move.") There's no relationship and you can' t
breed any random two of these together. They're split into chordates (things with backbones) and non-chordates.
Then there's the chordates (things with backbones and things without backbones) Again, no interbreeding. Chordates are split into mammals and
Then we have the class Mammalia (things with milk glands.) You still can't breed any two mammals of this Class at random and get offspring.
The mammals separate out into many Families, including the Carnivora (meat eaters.) You can't breed any two meat-eaters together and get
After Family comes the Genus. At this level, animals are reasonbly closely related. Much of this is pretty evident... we can tell a monkey from a
cat from a dog. Animals of two different genuses may not be able to produce fertile offspring.
The most close genetic relationships are Species. You can breed animals of different species together and get offspring (so felis Panthera leo (lion)
and felis panthera tigris (tiger) can crossbreed.) This isn't always a "given" and two species that are related still might not produce
Now... there's also the sub-sub species. At this level, the genetic differences between the two are slight (but more than skin/coat color) and they
can reproduce successfully.
Is that better?
Hey, there's no reason why we girls can't understand and discuss this stuff. Being female doesn't make us a different species!