The Zoo In the Mouth

There's a philosophical quandary breeding in your mouth.

Ever since Aristotle, philosophers and scientists have searched for the right way to classify living things. We call living things with feathers "birds," but we can also divide birds up into smaller groups, like pigeons and storks. We can drill down even further, to different species of pigeons. But it doesn't feel right to classify birds all the way down to every individual feathered creature on Earth. The fundamental unit of life's biodiversity has long been the species. Charles Darwin named his book The Origin of Species for a reason.

Darwin threw older notions of species into doubt, challenging the idea that ...

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