Lumpers and Splitters, Grolars and Pizzlies . . .
Jon Mooallem's book Wild Ones tells the story of the nearly extinct Lange's Metalmark butterfly, and it also tells the meta-story of how people react to the story of the nearly extinct Lange's metalmark butterfly; you'd think lepidopterists would stick together, simply to fend off bullies, but apparently they have divided into two camps: "lumpers" and "splitters" . . . lumpers are "comfortable gathering up large groups of different looking butterflies under the same species or sub-species" while splitters prefer "more painstaking divisions," and while this sound like a ridiculous feud, it can have consequences when the federal government is deciding which animals and/or environments to protect under the Endangered Species Act . . . but it mainly makes me think of Monty Python's Life of Brian . . . Mooallem also brings up my favorite sub-species nomenclature dilemma: because of global warming, grizzly bears have been encroaching on polar bear territory, and mating with them, and scientists can't decided whether to call these hybrid creatures "grolars" or "pizzlies," and while Mooallem wisely avoids chiming in on this debate, I'd like to say that I strongly prefer "grolar bears" over "pizzly bears," and I honestly don't even see how this is debatable-- when I hear the phrase "pizzly bear," I get a psychedelic vision of a pink and yellow dancing gummi-bear, and that's not going to help combat global warming at all.