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Taxonomy is insane
Reading this posting and the many items on dinosaur taxonomy have helped
convince me of something I've been suspecting for awhile now.
Let's consider. Some folks say Daspletosaurus and Albertosaurus are different
genera and they have good arguments for their case. Others say these two
"genera" are different sexes of the same species(!) and they have a good case
(that doing so may bring back Gorgosaurus makes it an attractive option).
Pretty soon there is going to be a generic level designation for every skull
and skeleton of "Tarbosaurus" from the Nemegt, others put them all in the
Some say Tyrannosaurus, Nanotyrannus and "megagracilis" are different genera,
others that they represent an ontogenetic series and sexual morphs of T rex.
Some say there are two common genera of theropods in the Ghost Ranch quarry,
s that there are two sexual morphs of the same species. The reality is that
no one knows, yet people argue over this like the end of western civilization
And this is just theropods. Let's not even think about the herbivorous
The fact is that we do not have the tools to reliably determine
sexual-ontogenetic versus taxonomic differences in dinosaurs at this time.
This sort of thing is hard enough to do with recent taxa (imagine trying to
sort out a number of canid taxa in a fossil site if they had been extinct for
100 million years). Certainly the sample sizes in most cases are grossly
inadequate to work with.
It is questionable whether we will ever have the means to restore the
taxonomic status of many dinosaurs at the genus-species level based on
Until and unless solid means for determining dinosaur taxa are available, is
this pursuit just the paleo equivalent of figuring out how many angels can
dance on the head of the pin? After all, if we are going to demand money to
do research, we might want to be able to produce some more meaningful
results. There are limits to what can be done in paleontology, and a better
of limited resources and time may be wise.