Classifing Organism by Mechanical Structure

For the discussion of the sciences. Physics problems, chemistry equations, biology weirdness, it all goes here.

Moderators: gmalivuk, Moderators General, Prelates

jewish_scientist
Posts: 917
Joined: Fri Feb 07, 2014 3:15 pm UTC

Classifing Organism by Mechanical Structure

Postby jewish_scientist » Tue Nov 15, 2016 1:54 pm UTC

I am trying to develop a system of classifying organisms (do not ask me why) and I reached the point where I want to separate organisms into groups based on their how they are mechanically held together. I made 3 groups so far; Internal (e.g. bears), External (e.g. ants), and Purely Soft Tissue (e.g. jellyfish). I have reached 2 problems though. First, how do I classify oysters; second, how do I classify plants. The only solutions I can think of is to make 2 new groups, but that seems like a lazy way to dodge a problem I should be able to fix.
"You are not running off with Cow-Skull Man Dracula Skeletor!"
-Socrates

User avatar
Angua
Don't call her Delphine.
Posts: 5781
Joined: Tue Sep 16, 2008 12:42 pm UTC
Location: UK/[St. Kitts and] Nevis Occasionally, I migrate to the US for a bit

Re: Classifing Organism by Mechanical Structure

Postby Angua » Tue Nov 15, 2016 2:08 pm UTC

You do realise that organisms have been classified based on their structure since the dawn of taxonomy? Genetics have now started to change that, but it generally worked out pretty well.

Just read up on what the latin names in the phylogenetic tree mean?
Crabtree's bludgeon: “no set of mutually inconsistent observations can exist for which some human intellect cannot conceive a coherent explanation, however complicated”
GNU Terry Pratchett

User avatar
Zohar
COMMANDER PORN
Posts: 8211
Joined: Fri Apr 27, 2007 8:45 pm UTC
Location: Denver

Re: Classifing Organism by Mechanical Structure

Postby Zohar » Tue Nov 15, 2016 2:26 pm UTC

Trying to figure out your own taxonomy methods is a worthwhile exercise, if you're interested in the field of study, but it doesn't mean you have to start from scratch! I agree with what Angua says - read up on what's been previously done.

Also consider other "borderline" cases - anything that has claws/teeth/fingernails, porcupines, anything with a beak (including octopuses), anything that doesn't have "tissues" (i.e. single-celled creatures), anything with a shell of some kind (turtles, armadillos)...
Mighty Jalapeno: "See, Zohar agrees, and he's nice to people."
SecondTalon: "Still better looking than Jesus."

Not how I say my name

jewish_scientist
Posts: 917
Joined: Fri Feb 07, 2014 3:15 pm UTC

Re: Classifing Organism by Mechanical Structure

Postby jewish_scientist » Wed Nov 16, 2016 6:45 pm UTC

Angua wrote:Just read up on what the latin names in the phylogenetic tree mean?

Zohar wrote:Trying to figure out your own taxonomy methods is a worthwhile exercise, if you're interested in the field of study, but it doesn't mean you have to start from scratch! I agree with what Angua says - read up on what's been previously done.

My problem with that idea is that it creates a self-fulfilling prophesy. If I read how someone else solved these problems, then would it be any surprise that I solved these problems in the same way? It is kind of like when a science teacher starts an experiment by telling the students what the 'correct' result is, and then all the students write reports that reach the same conclusion.

Also consider other "borderline" cases - anything that has claws/teeth/fingernails, porcupines, anything with a beak (including octopuses)... anything with a shell of some kind (turtles, armadillos)...

I am dividing them up based on how they are mechanically held together. For example, the organs of a seagull will remain in the same place even if someone surgery removed its beak; the same cannot be said for the seagull's bones.

Zohar wrote:anything that doesn't have "tissues" (i.e. single-celled creatures)

My system has multiple layers just like binomial nomenclature, so multi-celled and single-celled organisms have been set apart already.
"You are not running off with Cow-Skull Man Dracula Skeletor!"
-Socrates

User avatar
Zohar
COMMANDER PORN
Posts: 8211
Joined: Fri Apr 27, 2007 8:45 pm UTC
Location: Denver

Re: Classifing Organism by Mechanical Structure

Postby Zohar » Wed Nov 16, 2016 7:03 pm UTC

I'm not clear on why you're asking this here, then. Maybe this fits more in fictional science? But I wouldn't expect people to answer "how to classify organisms" with much more than explanations on how people classify them today.
Mighty Jalapeno: "See, Zohar agrees, and he's nice to people."
SecondTalon: "Still better looking than Jesus."

Not how I say my name

User avatar
Izawwlgood
WINNING
Posts: 18686
Joined: Mon Nov 19, 2007 3:55 pm UTC
Location: There may be lovelier lovelies...

Re: Classifing Organism by Mechanical Structure

Postby Izawwlgood » Wed Nov 16, 2016 9:39 pm UTC

Yeah, to emphasize Angua's point, a class in Taxonomy or Evolutionary Biology is almost equal parts crash course in Latin/Greek, because a lot of organisms are basically named after what they look like. "Blue Wide Triangle Scaled Lizard" or such.

If this is a funsies exercise, yeah, sure, have at it, but you'll need a lot of data you won't have access to easily. But hey, there's the "Wavey Leafed Tree" and theres the "Pine Needle Bearing Tree" and there's the "Brown Deer"!
... with gigantic melancholies and gigantic mirth, to tread the jeweled thrones of the Earth under his sandalled feet.

jewish_scientist
Posts: 917
Joined: Fri Feb 07, 2014 3:15 pm UTC

Re: Classifing Organism by Mechanical Structure

Postby jewish_scientist » Fri Nov 18, 2016 6:00 pm UTC

Zohar wrote:I'm not clear on why you're asking this here, then.

How does the structures in the bodies of oysters and plants that give the organisms their shape compare to the skeletons, exoskeletons, or soft-tissue system of animals?
"You are not running off with Cow-Skull Man Dracula Skeletor!"
-Socrates

User avatar
Zohar
COMMANDER PORN
Posts: 8211
Joined: Fri Apr 27, 2007 8:45 pm UTC
Location: Denver

Re: Classifing Organism by Mechanical Structure

Postby Zohar » Fri Nov 18, 2016 6:02 pm UTC

If this is what you're interested in, why not look into the way these mechanisms work, instead of taxonomy?
Mighty Jalapeno: "See, Zohar agrees, and he's nice to people."
SecondTalon: "Still better looking than Jesus."

Not how I say my name

User avatar
Izawwlgood
WINNING
Posts: 18686
Joined: Mon Nov 19, 2007 3:55 pm UTC
Location: There may be lovelier lovelies...

Re: Classifing Organism by Mechanical Structure

Postby Izawwlgood » Fri Nov 18, 2016 6:45 pm UTC

jewish_scientist wrote:
Zohar wrote:I'm not clear on why you're asking this here, then.

How does the structures in the bodies of oysters and plants that give the organisms their shape compare to the skeletons, exoskeletons, or soft-tissue system of animals?
Are you asking for fictional science purposes, or to understand evolution? And, I mean, it's kind of a lengthy answer, because you're asking a couple things.
... with gigantic melancholies and gigantic mirth, to tread the jeweled thrones of the Earth under his sandalled feet.

User avatar
Copper Bezel
Posts: 2426
Joined: Wed Oct 12, 2011 6:35 am UTC
Location: Web exclusive!

Re: Classifing Organism by Mechanical Structure

Postby Copper Bezel » Sat Nov 19, 2016 6:53 am UTC

jewish_scientist wrote:My system has multiple layers just like binomial nomenclature, so multi-celled and single-celled organisms have been set apart already.

And yet you say plants are a problem?

And very oddly specifically oysters?

I think you may have a very specific sense in mind for what "how a thing is mechanically put together" means, but it's definitely not clear from this thread.
So much depends upon a red wheel barrow (>= XXII) but it is not going to be installed.

she / her / her

User avatar
Angua
Don't call her Delphine.
Posts: 5781
Joined: Tue Sep 16, 2008 12:42 pm UTC
Location: UK/[St. Kitts and] Nevis Occasionally, I migrate to the US for a bit

Re: Classifing Organism by Mechanical Structure

Postby Angua » Sat Nov 19, 2016 8:28 am UTC

Yes, what about kitens? I can't seem to find the right spelling of that word but they are like a limpet.

Edit Googling armoured slug seashore gave me the spelling - chiton.
Crabtree's bludgeon: “no set of mutually inconsistent observations can exist for which some human intellect cannot conceive a coherent explanation, however complicated”
GNU Terry Pratchett

User avatar
Copper Bezel
Posts: 2426
Joined: Wed Oct 12, 2011 6:35 am UTC
Location: Web exclusive!

Re: Classifing Organism by Mechanical Structure

Postby Copper Bezel » Sat Nov 19, 2016 9:23 am UTC

Yeah, the one that came to mind for me was cuttlefish, since they have a hard "skeletal" element that's really a specialized organ and nothing to do with structure. Another would be echinoderms - sea stars are kinda built like the chitons in that the hard parts and the structure aren't the same parts.

But I really just think this isn't enough to go on:

I am dividing them up based on how they are mechanically held together. For example, the organs of a seagull will remain in the same place even if someone surgery removed its beak; the same cannot be said for the seagull's bones.


Like, it is true that the bones of vertebrates provide structure, and that that is their most basic function. But removing any internal organ is altering the internal structure. There's nothing really special about hard parts as relates to structure, because plenty of organisms get on with a hydrostatic skeleton instead.

So I just don't understand the criteria JS is actually talking about using here. The poor seagull isn't helping.
So much depends upon a red wheel barrow (>= XXII) but it is not going to be installed.

she / her / her

jewish_scientist
Posts: 917
Joined: Fri Feb 07, 2014 3:15 pm UTC

Re: Classifing Organism by Mechanical Structure

Postby jewish_scientist » Wed Nov 23, 2016 2:12 pm UTC

Copper Bezel wrote:
jewish_scientist wrote:My system has multiple layers just like binomial nomenclature, so multi-celled and single-celled organisms have been set apart already.

And yet you say plants are a problem?

Good point, so lets forget about plants.

And very oddly specifically oysters?

I could not think of any other examples, such as chitons and limpets (thank you Angua).

I think you may have a very specific sense in mind for what "how a thing is mechanically put together" means, but it's definitely not clear from this thread.

Yeah, I have found this difficulty in commutation is a common problem. I think this happens because people who use this site have this odd tendency of not being me.

Copper Bezel wrote:Yeah, the one that came to mind for me was cuttlefish, since they have a hard "skeletal" element that's really a specialized organ and nothing to do with structure. Another would be echinoderms - sea stars are kinda built like the chitons in that the hard parts and the structure aren't the same parts.

A couple of sites say that the cuttlefish's cuttlebone, which has a lot of calcium, help it maintain a constant volume and that their brains are protected by cartilage (at this level I am equating cartilage and bone, the next level they will be divided), so I think cuttlefish would go into the 'hard parts on the inside' category. Regarding echinoderms, *bangs head on table*. I am starting to think maybe I should put all of these things into their own category.
"You are not running off with Cow-Skull Man Dracula Skeletor!"
-Socrates

User avatar
Copper Bezel
Posts: 2426
Joined: Wed Oct 12, 2011 6:35 am UTC
Location: Web exclusive!

Re: Classifing Organism by Mechanical Structure

Postby Copper Bezel » Wed Nov 23, 2016 5:35 pm UTC

Sorry, I don't mean to be quite such a downer on this. It is an interesting project. I think that if you're treating structural members as those systems that clearly perform almost exclusively a structural role, as opposed to only elements that are mineralized or polymerized with something like chitin or keratin, and therefore including the soft and squeaky kinds of cartilage, you might want to consider muscles themselves as a part of that system. But I don't know exactly where to go from that.
So much depends upon a red wheel barrow (>= XXII) but it is not going to be installed.

she / her / her

jewish_scientist
Posts: 917
Joined: Fri Feb 07, 2014 3:15 pm UTC

Re: Classifing Organism by Mechanical Structure

Postby jewish_scientist » Wed Nov 23, 2016 6:13 pm UTC

I am considering the hard or soft tissue that gives an animal its structure and the tissue that gives an animal its ability to move. The point is that both of these types of tissue have the function of a mechanical nature. Like... imagine you are a martial artist in a comic book. You would know all about the bones and muscles of the human body, so that you knew which places were the most likely to break when hit. The fact that bones make red blood cells, or that muscles need ATP to relax is irrelevant to you. Similarly, you would not care about the function of the kidneys; only that they are easily damaged when hit from behind. Those types of mechanical properties, how the animals are build from a structural engineering point of view, is what I am trying to divide animals up based on.
"You are not running off with Cow-Skull Man Dracula Skeletor!"
-Socrates

User avatar
Angua
Don't call her Delphine.
Posts: 5781
Joined: Tue Sep 16, 2008 12:42 pm UTC
Location: UK/[St. Kitts and] Nevis Occasionally, I migrate to the US for a bit

Re: Classifing Organism by Mechanical Structure

Postby Angua » Wed Nov 23, 2016 6:15 pm UTC

So what are conchs? They move by hopping (it's a pretty cool thing to watch).
Crabtree's bludgeon: “no set of mutually inconsistent observations can exist for which some human intellect cannot conceive a coherent explanation, however complicated”
GNU Terry Pratchett

User avatar
Copper Bezel
Posts: 2426
Joined: Wed Oct 12, 2011 6:35 am UTC
Location: Web exclusive!

Re: Classifing Organism by Mechanical Structure

Postby Copper Bezel » Wed Nov 23, 2016 7:27 pm UTC

Is it about locomotion, though? I feel like you'd need to know what traits or aspects you're considering to determine the top-most divisions, and other attributes that you can use to create the categories below that. A conch's method of locomotion seems like it has to be a variation on a broader theme of creatures that probably are real-world related to it.
So much depends upon a red wheel barrow (>= XXII) but it is not going to be installed.

she / her / her

User avatar
Izawwlgood
WINNING
Posts: 18686
Joined: Mon Nov 19, 2007 3:55 pm UTC
Location: There may be lovelier lovelies...

Re: Classifing Organism by Mechanical Structure

Postby Izawwlgood » Wed Nov 23, 2016 10:16 pm UTC

Some snails move by surfing. Some vertebrates move by brachiating. Another vertebrate uses its tail as a counterweight and 'rudder' whilst sprinting. Some vertebrates run on their toes, while some run on their hands.

I think there's a reason why bauplan is definitely already a way things are classified, though not necessarily by mechanism of action/use, as much as homology.
... with gigantic melancholies and gigantic mirth, to tread the jeweled thrones of the Earth under his sandalled feet.

User avatar
thoughtfully
Posts: 2253
Joined: Thu Nov 01, 2007 12:25 am UTC
Location: Minneapolis, MN
Contact:

Re: Classifing Organism by Mechanical Structure

Postby thoughtfully » Thu Nov 24, 2016 11:28 pm UTC

There is a super book on the mechanics of living things titled Cat's Paws and Catapults. You should find it entertaining and edifying, even if it doesn't help with this question.

Fun Fact: some clams have muscles that are relaxed in the shortened state, to expend less energy holding their shells closed.
Image
Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.
-- Antoine de Saint-Exupery


Return to “Science”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 11 guests