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>I have a question regarding taxonomic classification in respect to Jim
>Jensen's famed brachiosaurids "Ultrasaurus" and "Supersaurus". Why is it
>that it seems when new animals are discovered they are classified relatively
>quickly, whereas with these two guys we are forever burdened to include
>quotation marks? What criteria is used to classify a discovery, and how long
>does it take? Why can't we finally just call them Ultrasaurus and
>Supersaurus officially and be done with it, even if they might be Sauropoda
>Incertae Sedis? Perhaps it's finally happened and I'm just behind. Anyone
>--Christopher Sirmons Haviland, email@example.com
>--Humble amateur / armchair enthusiast
Both Supersaurus vivianae and Ultrasaurus machintoshi were formally
published around 1987 or so. Supersaurus is a diplodocid, not a
brachiosaurid, by the way.
Ultrasaurus (in North America) had to be renamed Ultrasauros, since another
paleontologist (thinking that "Ultrasaurus" had already been formally
named), created a new Asian species of Ultrasaurus. The Asian species
turned out to be neither a giant sauropod nor, as far as anyone can tell, a
brachiosaurid. The U.S. dinosaur is thus Ultrasauros machintoshi.
However, since both S. vivanae nor U. machintoshi are very incomplete, it
is not unreasonable that they might simply be very large individuals of
some diplodocid and Brachiosaurus altithorax, respectively.
Thomas R. Holtz, Jr.
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