Sep 12, 2007

Lumper, n.:
1. A day laborer who loads or unloads cargo from a vessle. Synonyms: dock worker, dock-walloper, docker, dockhand, loader, longshoreman, stevedore, manual laborer, jack. Also used to mean theives who lurk on wharfs. In a newer prejudice, "lumper" is used to mean unaccountable and possibly illegal.

2. A taxonomist who classifies into large groups, based on major characteristics. Antonyms: divider, splitter. A lumper, in this definition, is on one side of a taxonomical debate.


  1. Daniel-

    you are hilarious and crazy too. i miss you.

    what exactly is this post about?

  2. The Wikipedia article doesn't make clear that the lumpers/splitters issue applies with particular acuteness to certain areas such as apomictic species who invariably reproduce asexually. Thus Taraxacum officinale, the common European dandelion, can be regarded as a single species or as some 229 microspecies in the UK alone - each of these minutely distinguishable by specialists and probably fulfilling the basic criterion of a species, that they do not interbreed with any of the other 228 microspecies - or even with themselves. It's an open question whether DNA analysis will produce a more definitive meaning of "species" which will enable us to finally decide whether dandelions constitute one species or 229, or whether nature will continue to resist categorization by a concept ("species") which originated as a human label of convenience.