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Bob Murray

A while back someone blogged you with "What is a species?" and eventually I wrote out a paragraph in my lecture notebook and the opportune time passed. It reminded me that Sam Cowan used to goad the Bergeyites with "numbers would do as well" and my father was heard to say "Sam, when you die your tombstone will say: “Here lies 6067233....", which dissolved the argument. I cannot imagine how we could do without species as a basis for simple communication and collection of data. Some species are more in focus than others as befits a definition that may have to encompass a spectrum of determinable characters in just the same way as the sequence similarities have to be over a small number of percentage points of differences. The question recurs often enough and has to be answered: Was it ?
(Editorial note: Prof. Murray’s father was also a very distinguished microbiologist. Bergeyites refers to those involved with the august Bergey’s Manual of Determinative Bacteriology.)

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