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Re: So what's a Brachiosaur?



>
>I'm not sure whether I understand Tracy Monaghan's question: "What's
>a Brachiosaur?"  ...Unless it means "Why do we sometimes see the word
>'Brachiosaurus' in a text and other times we see 'brachiosaur'?"

I think part of the confusion might be Jurassic Park related - many press
releases, posters, etc., said "the Brachiosaur, also known as the
brontosaurus" - a patently untrue statement!

>This might be something that should be included in the FAQ.
>As I understand it, "brachiosaur" (with a lower case "b" and no
>"-us" suffix) is a generic term (no pun intended) for the family
>name. Thus Brachiosaurus, Astrodon (or Pleurocoelus), Ultrasaurus
>and others are all brachiosaurs, but only one is a Brachiosaurus.
>Likewise, Tyrannosaurus, Daspletosaurus, Albertosaurus, et al are
>all tyrannosaurs, but only Tyrannosaurus rex and (as we learned
>recently from reading this list) Tyrannosaurus bataar are
>Tyrannosauruses. Does any other animal group have this confusion?
>In the hound family there are borzois, afghans, beagles, dachshunds,
>Irish wolfhounds, greyhounds, etc. but no Hound.

Actually, all those "hounds" members are the same species, Canis
familiaris.  You can think of the situation this way, however:  wolves,
foxes, tanuki (the Asian semi-arboreal "racoon" dog), coyotes, and domestic
dogs are all dogs (properly canids, members of the family Canidae, etc.),
but the name "dog" generally refers only to Canis familiaris (the domestic
dog).

>
>Am I correct in assuming that the statement "Daspletosaurus is a
>tyrannosaur" is identical to the statement "Daspletosaurus is a
>tyrannosaurid?" Is there a time when the "-id" suffix is more
>appropriate than the same designation without it?

Your statement is correct, and the preference is to use "-id" as much as
possible, to avoid confusion.

For example, if I say "ankylosaur", you don't know if I'm refering to all
the heavily armored dinosaurs (Ankylosauria), only the triangular-headed,
tail-clubbed forms (Ankylosauridae), or the final and largest genus of this
group (Ankylosaurus).  Less confusion would result if I had said
ankylosaurian, ankylosaurid, or Ankylosaurus.

Hope this helps.

                                
Thomas R. Holtz, Jr.                                   
tholtz@geochange.er.usgs.gov
Vertebrate Paleontologist in Exile                  Phone:      703-648-5280
U.S. Geological Survey                                FAX:      703-648-5420
Branch of Paleontology & Stratigraphy
MS 970 National Center
Reston, VA  22092
U.S.A.