What if you find a flaw in the fairy moth’s taxonomy? What if you asked to talk to Corvus, expecting that you would be able to talk to jackdaws, only to find that the fairy moth only included crows in Corvus. What if you argue that you should be able to talk to jackdaws, as you consider them to be part of Corvus?
Perhaps I would ask to speak to Struthio, according to the 10th Edition of Systema Naturae. And argue that since it’s polyphyletic, I should be able to speak to the smallest clade that includes all Struthio, namely, Neornithes.
What would the fairy moth do if you ask to speak to a genus they consider invalid?
If you were to ask some caterpillars, they would say that taxonomic family is a real entity. I still remember reading a butterfly book published before the current taxonomy – in listing out host plants, there were several where it listed out several species which were then considered to be in the snapdragon family, “and plantain.” Now, those former members of the snapdragon family are in the plantain family. Looks like a real entity to me.
I’m not sure I would…
Quercus: Especially the elder grandfather and grandmother trees. But they do have a different sense of time than humans so patience (and humility) is required.
I wonder if talking to trees would be like talking to Tolkien’s ents?
Maybe the Cyanobacteria. (OK I’m cheating here there are more than one genus of these. If I have to limit myself, you pick one of these; Cyanobacterium, Trichodesmium, Prochlorococcus or Synechococcus). These were the ancient organisms, who over a billion year time span, converted the Earth’s atmosphere from principally methane and carbon dioxide, to the oxygen rich one we enjoy today. In doing so, the Cyanobacteria made possible the biological diverse planet we know today, at the same limiting themselves to a handful of dull, anaerobic ecosystems. There are people today, Al Gore, Greta Thunberg et al. who predict that humans are following a similar fatal trajectory through our greenhouse gas emissions. Would the Cyanobacteria be able to persuade us not to make the same mistakes they did?, Or perhaps they could comfort us with the fact that our despoiling the planet may provide a more richer, biologically diverse world in the distant future? I guess this would all depend on the capacity of archaic single celled organisms’ ability to engage in philosophical discussion.
I haven’t answered the question because it’s so hard to choose. I definitely understand the ones who picked Quercus. If I still lived in California, I would be inclined to pick Sequoia. There are just so many genera whose lives I would love to understand better – from reviled but intelligent Rattus to well-traveled Pantala. I still can’t decide on just one.
@cyanfox I think the fairy moth uses iNat.
@harpo @giannamaria They don’t say anything unless it’s worth talking a long time to say?