The Red Panda (Ailurus fulgens) -
Originally classified as a member of the Procyonidae (Raccoon) family by Frederick Cuvier in 1825, then the Ursidae (Bear) family, has more recently (~35 years) been seperated into it’s own phylogenetic family Ailuridae. This is interesting for it is the only species within this family; a rare occurrence among most phylo-strata. The superfamily Musteloidea contains a number of families that share this unique trait and should, in my opinion, be given a second look to increase parsimony in the phylogenetic tree in accordance with Occam’s Razor.
Since technology has enabled us to decipher the genetic code, we are able to compare the chemical make up of organisms. In this example, the Mitochondrial DNA of Red Pandas’ show that the species diverged from a common ancestor with bears nearly 40 million years ago (Mayr, 1986). This explains the lengthy debate surrounding this species’ classification, for classifications were previously delineated by phenotypic (physical) characteristics. I believe this level of analysis is good for certain aspects of science, but may be somewhat overkill here. If we continue to create more and more subfamilies, soon they will all be filled with just one species. That would really eliminate the purpose of our classification and nomenclature system the scientific community as used for years. Instead of saying Genus species you would just refer to the individual by it’s family name. What I am trying to say is: If we continue to seperate individuals based on extremely unique criteria, our classification system will need to be changed. Instead of seeing a tree with branches or related individuals, we would see a timeline of change more like a field of grass with branches at the bottom and thousands of straight lines coming from them.
It is difficult to argue this because, as a scientist, this is the way I’ve always thought: more precise evidence = better. In this situation though, being more precise may completely eliminate the need for a phylogenetic tree and replace it with a timeline of change (evolution).
Aside from that thought, the Red Panda is considered ‘Vulnerable’ and deserves some conservation effort. It represents a perfect Flagship species because of how ‘attractive’ it is, and would make obtaining public support for conservation simple.
Think about it.
blah blah blahblah blah….pedobear.