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Naming Brontosaurs vs Apatosaurs--an aside
I enjoyed the discussion of the issue of naming the brontosaurus/
apatosaurus which appeared several days ago. The discussion had
pretty much died down when last Friday evening I attended one of
the monthly meetings of the Kentucky Paleontological Society. The
slide lecture was presented by Dr. Cortland Eble of the
Kentucky Geological Survey. The presentation focused on
Pennsylvanian plant fossils from Kentucky and their relationships to
coal formation. Dr. Eble is a paleopalynologist [knower of old pollen
and spores]. He presented some lovely slides taken with the microscope
showing a wide range of plant types from the period.
In the discussion of lycopod trees it became evident that the
spore and the plant have different names, even though they are
the same organism. Further, it developed, there are as many as
5, 6, 7, or more names for the same organism, depending on what
part is being denoted. These names have all appearance of being
separate species, but in fact they all refer to the same species.
I couldn't help but think of apatosaurus/brontosaurus when thinking
of these plants and their many names. I suppose we give more attention
to the issue of naming the dinosaur species because they are *big*.
But I wonder who gave the paleobotanists special dispensation so that
they are exempt from following the rules of scientific naming.
Bob Moore STR002@UKCC.UKY.EDU
Stroke Program, Center on Aging (606) 323-5760 (voice)
101 Sanders-Brown Building (606) 257-8990 (fax)
University of Kentucky
Lexington, Kentucky 40536