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A Revised Classification of the Rodents

Albert E. Wood
DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.2307/1375874 165-187 First published online: 1 May 1955

Of all the orders of mammals, the rodents are the most inadequately understood taxonomically. Almost everyone who has worked with the rodents is in agreement that the current classification is inadequate. But, at least partly because of the large number of different forms belonging to this order, there is no general agreement as to what is wrong with the present arrangement or what should be done to improve it. The present author has been thinking about this problem for a considerable period, and had hoped to be able to present a consistent revision of the subordinal classification, with adequate documentation. However, it seems apparent that it will be a long time, if ever, before anyone will have been able to acquire a first-hand knowledge of all of the members of this order, and therefore the suggested arrangement in this paper is merely presented as a basis for further discussion by others who are interested in this order, in hopes that this will contribute to a better understanding of the problems of rodent taxonomy and a closer approach to a realistic classification.

There seem to be two general philosophies underlying current classifications. Nearly everyone accepts the theoretical ideal that a classification should reflect the underlying relationships of the animals involved. But it is not always possible to agree on the criteria that should be used to interpret the relationships. An attempt to use this principle is exemplified by Simpson (1945). The difficulty with using relationships of the organisms involved is that there are always some forms of uncertain relationships. These must either be assigned a position in the classification in a more or less arbitrary manner, or they must be left incertae sedis. While this latter method gives the most adequate picture of the relationships of the forms involved, …

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