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Article Collaboration and Improvement DriveThis article was on the Article Collaboration and Improvement Drive for the week of December 15, 2007.

Clarification of lead paragraphs[edit]

The second paragraph should start as follows: Most animals are bilaterians, excluding sponges, ctenophores, placozoans and cnidarians. This paragraph should retain the second sentence about bilaterians. That sentence should conclude with a paragraph break, and a new paragraph should start with the remaining two sentences about the evolution of animal life: "Life forms interpreted as early animals..." — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 01:54, 10 April 2020 (UTC)

Semi-protected edit request on 18 May 2020[edit]

The Phylum table says there are 29,500 Platyhelminths, of which >40,000 are parasites. There cannot be more parasitic species of a phylum than there are species. I'm afraid I cannot find a reference with a definitive number for either species total or parasites, but clearly at least one of the numbers in this article is incorrect. I suspect that the figure for parasites is correct, based on the source given, but that the species figure is unreliable. I suggest you remove the species figure. Oliveraceae (talk) 16:55, 18 May 2020 (UTC)

Yet by Wikipedia policies both are reliably sourced. The parasite source is earlier, possibly before the division of the phylum, but this clearly needs a newer and more comprehensive source. I'll have a look tomorrow if someone (hopefully) doesn't beat me to it. —  Jts1882 | talk  19:49, 18 May 2020 (UTC)
A search for number of Plathelminthes finds several estimates like 20,000 or 25,000. These seem in line with the first source (Zhang et al, 2013). The parasite source has the peculiar phrasing "estimates of species numbers are meant to be realistic minimum numbers" and refers to another earlier source on parasite diversity. My guess is that realistic minimum numbers means some attempt to estimate total species rather than just described species, in which case the 40,000 may be consisitent, but is not a useful number without also knowing the number of non-parasitic species. A proportion of parasitic species might be a more useful number, e.g. there about 30,000 species, about a quarter/third/half being parasitic. —  Jts1882 | talk  07:11, 19 May 2020 (UTC)
The second source says it is adapted from Poulin and Morand 2004. Presumably this 2014 book is an updated edition. If so, it states there are a "minimum number" of ">40,000" species of platyhelminthes (sourced to Brooks and McLennan 1993 and Rodhe 1996). Given our article describes the table as "described extant species", we should probably remove the >40,000 as it specifically includes undescribed species. The number of described parasites should probably be roughly 24,000, which is Platyhelminthes minus Turbellaria, although I don't have a source on hand. CMD (talk) 07:52, 19 May 2020 (UTC)
The table isn't exclusively described extant species. Some of the sources other than Zhang (2013) use other methods and these are used for estimates of numbers for land, sea, etc. I don't think we can get a totally consistent set of numbers using multiple references. However, that new edition you found seems to indicate that the >40,000 includes the free living species (footnote to table 1.1 saying "taxon also contains free-living specie"s) so the number may not belong in the parasite column.
I found a new source giving 3,000–6,500 for free-living Platyhelminhtes and 4,000–25,000 for parasitic ones[1], which also states 77% are parasitic and has a table with a number of other estimates (on p13). I think by including different estimates the reader can see that there are differences of opinion. Perhaps a footnote stating that the numbers may not add up due to different methodologies in the estimates would also be helpful. —  Jts1882 | talk  08:08, 19 May 2020 (UTC)
I can't access Zhang (2013), but our text specifically notes the table is restricted to "described extant species" in both the text and caption. It's worth giving estimates, but combining described species and estimated species in a single table is not something that presents a clear picture to readers. Your new source for example gives those numbers as the numbers of "reported species", and it is misleading to present this alongside the >40,000 number, which is explicitly not limited to reported species. Those two estimates aren't differences of opinion, they're measuring entirely different things. The text already notes that there will be far more undiscovered species than those listed in the table. CMD (talk) 08:19, 19 May 2020 (UTC)
(Response to edit) My reading of the 2014 book is that the 40,000 number only includes the parasitic Classes, as the number is placed against the Class rather than the Phylum. CMD (talk) 08:26, 19 May 2020 (UTC)
Yes, I think you are right. I've struck out that comment.
The numbers in the table from Zhang(2013) are for described extant species, but I don't think we can say that about the other numbers. Take the molluscs, the source giving a 107,000 total is also used for land, sea and freshwater numbers, which add up to more than Zhangs 85,000 described species. But as both numbers are given for the total, it should be clear to a reader who is paying attention to the numbers. However, the >40,000 number doesn't have a corresponding total platyhelminthes number, so maybe it is better to remove it now we have a newer source and estimate that is consistent with the Zhang numbers. —  Jts1882 | talk  08:52, 19 May 2020 (UTC)
Well we either need to make the text line up with the table, or the table line up with the text. The reader should not have to figure out that something we say in the literal table description isn't actually true. Do you have access to the mollusc source to see how they come up with the numbers? If it's also an attempt to number described species, that would be in line with Zhang, but otherwise it doesn't make sense to include in the same table. CMD (talk) 09:25, 19 May 2020 (UTC)
I've found a source that indicates there may be "about 100,000 extant species of both free-living and parasitic forms" (Park et al. A common origin of complex life cycles in parasitic flatworms: evidence from the complete mitochondrial genome of Microcotyle sebastis (Monogenea: Platyhelminthes). BMC Evol Biol 7, 11 (2007)). Perhaps this is helpful, if the source satisfies the Wikipedia policies. It might allow you to retain the >40,000 parasites figure and it is also consonant with the idea that there are probably many undescribed species. I understand from what you have both written above that undescribed species are permitted as part of the total figure. This is the first interaction I have had with a Wikipedia article, beyond reading - please excuse any errors in protocol! Oliveraceae (talk) 11:14, 19 May 2020 (UTC)
I can't think of a single better way to engage with Wikipedia protocol than to come to a talkpage and provide a source. The questions for this table are, should it show described species, total estimates, or both, and whatever the option chosen, how is this best conveyed to the reader? If there are 100,000 species of platyhelminthes, I very much suspect that there would be far more than 40,000 parasitic species, given the majority of platyhelminthes seem to be parasitic. Perhaps the source can be included as an example for undescribed species in the text either way. CMD (talk) 12:50, 19 May 2020 (UTC)


  1. ^ Pandian, T. J. (2020). Reproduction and Development in Platyhelminthes. CRC Press. pp. 13–14. ISBN 9781000054903.
@Oliveraceae: I agree with CMD, addressing issues with the article and providing sources on the talk page is a good approach to Wikipedia. Ultimately, within reason, what can be includes in articles is what editors (including you) agree to place in them. Park et al (2007) is one of the references mentioned in table 1.2 of Pandian (2020),[1] along with two lower estimates. The text in Pandian (2020, p14) surprisingly implies the 100,000 is described species but I can't confirm this. Park et al (2007)] cites Littlewood (2006) which is in a book I can't access. Pandian (2020) says >77% are parasitic so this would also imply a high number of parasitic species.
@Chipmunkdavis: The mollusc estimates are "based on the probable number of living species". If we limit the table to described species many of the numbers in the other columns would also need removing. The chordates numbers are described species but very outdated (1996). The freshwater source (Balian et al 2008) is also based on described species. The possible solutions seem to be:
  1. Remove all numbers not based on described species.
  2. Indicate where species numbers are estimated, e.g. 4,000 (est.)
  3. Restrict a total described species column to Zhang (2013) (with reference for column) and add another column for other estimates.
All need the text to be modified appropriately. Overall, I don't see why the numbers in table should be described species only, especially as we know the limitations of that number. I'm leaning towards option 2. —  Jts1882 | talk  17:08, 19 May 2020 (UTC)
My point is not particularly that described species is better, but that mixing described and estimated species in the same table without clarification is misleading (hence the existence of this discussion). A variation on 2 might be to perhaps have described and estimated species for all phyla. I suppose a more fundamental question is, what is the purpose of this table? I can't really tell from looking at it. (For example, if it's to highlight the size of various phyla, then it probably shouldn't be ordered alphabetically.) CMD (talk) 01:13, 20 May 2020 (UTC)

Revising the 'In human culture' section[edit]

Formerly Photos within "In human culture" section

There are three photos in the section In human culture, however they all depict a predation relationship, specifically as food or food/sport. Perhaps there can be a picture depicting a Mutualism/symbiotic relationship, such as a human with a pet. There was a picture of a guide dog here at one time, but that is less common than use of animals as companions. I'm not sure if the use of animals as pets is more common than their use as food. In the Western world it's probably about equal, but in developing countries pets (at least dogs and cats) are less common, but vegetarianism is more common outside of the Western world. In any case, I don't think all three photos should be depicting the same type of relationship.

I was going to replace File:Hebbuz.JPG with File:Nancy and Smokey in San Francisco.jpg, but thought I'd put it out for comment first. Sparkie82 (tc) 02:43, 19 October 2020 (UTC)

Thanks for discussing. Well, no, they aren't all about "predation": one is about food, sure (with a helping of commerce and a wave in the direction of animal husbandry); one is about the (ancient) symbiosis with working animals (with a helping of pets and hunting on the side); and one is about art and the history of art (with a gesture towards sea-fishing). The images fit the text rather well and cover, in a small space, a wide range of the many topics listed. A specifically "pets" image would be a significant narrowing of coverage: qua, worse. Chiswick Chap (talk) 08:41, 19 October 2020 (UTC)
I agree that the images depict multiple aspects of ethnozoology, however, I'm sure a zoologist and even an etholgist for that matter, would characterize the depictions as predation (or fallen prey). (Predation is when one animal kills and eats another animal.) All three images depict the use of non-human animals that have been killed by humans for food: the carcasses, obviously; the hunting dog depicts interspecies social predation (assuming the hunter throws table scraps to his dog); and the image of the painting is obviously a (meta)depiction of seafood. Yes, there is cooperation with regard to the relationship between the dog and the hunter, however, the photo specifically depicts the behavior of social predation. Also, the title of the section is "In human culture" so it's odd that no humans are shown together with non-human animals in any of the photos. Sparkie82 (tc) 23:38, 19 October 2020 (UTC)

@Chiswick Chap: On second thought, after looking at this article as a whole, this section seems to be written in a different tone from the rest of the article. I see from the revision history that you added the section a couple of years ago and it was a great idea to add this section about humans and animals. It's summarized from Animals in culture, which at the time was probably the most well developed sub-topic article on the subject. However, when I read the lead (which very effectively summarizes the article) and quickly scan the article as a whole it's definitely a biology article except this section. I think maybe we should rewrite portions of this section in the tone and language of science/biology to better integrate the section into the article as a whole. I'm not necessarily saying we should change it's scope or what is included in the section, but just write it in the language of biology as the rest of the article is written. We can put the discussion about the photos on hold for a while and return to it later if necessary after the section in revised. Sparkie82 (tc) 00:54, 20 October 2020 (UTC)

That doesn't make sense. The 'in culture' section is necessarily less "biological" in content and in language because its theme is the interaction of animals with human society. Biology itself has multiple levels; and the languages of biochemistry, molecular biology, cell biology, or indeed physiology would be wholly inapplicable to the section. As for tone, I wrote much of the text of both the articles, and the tone is carefully encyclopedic in both cases. The (hunting) dog is an image of ancient co-operation and companionship, being the first symbiosis between humans and any domesticated animal. Chiswick Chap (talk) 07:52, 20 October 2020 (UTC)
Since humans are animals, the information in this section is a subtopic of ethology, which covers animal culture and feeding behaviors, and (with the current section title) more specifically ethnozoology. Since this is a scientific/biology article, the section should be written that way. Just about all of the areas currently touched upon in the section could be written that way.

I can see already that we're not going to reach a consensus here with just the two of us. I'm going to step away and leave this discussion open for others to comment. (I've changed the title of the thread to reflect the more general topic of discussion.) Sparkie82 (tc) 11:13, 24 October 2020 (UTC)

One more thing... Here is a sample of what I'm talking about as a rewrite:

Humans have widely varied interactions with other animals. As omnivores, they often get a portion of their diet through predation or intermittent symbiotic parasitism. Up until the Neolithic Revolution, predation was almost exclusively via hunting and fishing. Today is it is most often by hunting marine species and via animal husbandry. Many species of fish are hunted while a smaller number of species are farmed. Invertebrates including cephalopods, crustaceans, and bivalve or gastropod molluscs are also hunted or farmed. Interaction may be mutualistic or commensal when animals are used by humans to assist with predation, such as the use of hunting dogs...

And the parts about, religion and pets can use the language of ethology and ethnozoology, etc. This is what I am proposing. Sparkie82 (tc) 01:08, 25 October 2020 (UTC)

Semi-protected edit request on 24 November 2020[edit]

Doahbeck (talk) 18:17, 24 November 2020 (UTC)
i want to make it better
 Not done: it's not clear what changes you want to be made. Please mention the specific changes in a "change X to Y" format and provide a reliable source if appropriate. --TheImaCow (talk) 18:55, 24 November 2020 (UTC)
  1. ^ Cite error: The named reference Pandian was invoked but never defined (see the help page).