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Goodbye Reptiles

By Matthew Yglesias on November 27, 2010 at 2:28 pm

"Goodbye Reptiles"

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I went to the American Museum of Natural History yesterday to see see dinosaurs learn about science, and I was a bit distressed to learn that my favorite childhood museum wants to abolish the concept of “reptile” from our discourse. Apparently their fancy cladistics-based approach to species classification tells them that crocodiles are more closely related to birds than they are to lizards & snakes and that even the lizard & snake suite of creatures is closer to birds than they are to the turtles & tortoises. So reptiles aren’t a real natural kind. Amphibians are getting the same treatment.

One of the entrance halls to the museum is also bedecked with quotations from Theodore Roosevelt, a man who turns out to be full of excellent quips that express bad ideas. “If I must choose between righteousness and peace I choose righteousness,” the wall proclaims. Turns out he was talking about World War One where I guess he got neither.

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