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another diatribe



Thanks to Tom and Dinogeorge for their replies.  Concerning my query, 
Dinogeorge wrote (4/18/96; 4:20p):

>... What we have been thinking of as _Lagosuchus_ is based on
>referred material now considered to belong mainly to the species
>_Marasuchus lilloensis_ (formerly _Lagosuchus lilloensis_). 
>Incidentally, this makes the family name Lagosuchidae a nomen
>dubium, too. Perhaps it's time for a different name for this family?

As an addendum to my earlier rambling diatribe, I point out that renaming 
_Lagosuchus_ has led to considerable nomenclatorial instability, none of 
which was necessary.  ICZN rules are partially _intended_ to promote just 
the opposite--stability.  Will we also end up with a family 
Rioarribasauridae?

I reiterate something from an even earlier diatribe that dealt with what 
seems like nomenclatorial chaos.  It's not much of a problem when I tell 
people that we don't use the name _Trachodon_ any more, but we think that 
much of what was called _Trachodon_ at one time has been referred to as 
_Anatosaurus_.  In fact, I tell people that one way they can judge 
whether a "coffee table" book or kid's book on dinosaurs was written by 
someone who knows what he/she is talking about is to check to see if 
_Trachodon_ is used for duckbills, and don't buy the book if it is!  When 
I say that apparently _Anatosaurus_ should now be called _Anatotitan_, 
people's eyes start to glass over.  They want to know what it's going to 
be called next, and why they should bother learning _Anatotitan_.  

I just recently learned about _Marasuchus_, although forgot to use that 
term in my initial posting on "_Lagosuchus_."  So you can tell that I'm 
not really among the cognoscente.  But I really don't think it behooves 
us to make dinosaur paleontology (or other specialties) so arcane that 
the cognoscente are the only ones who can discuss it intelligently or 
without being constantly corrected.  Subnuclear physics is certainly 
equally arcane, but everyone understands its importance to our future, so 
the public supports continuing to spend money on research in that field.  
I doubt that the public feels the same way about research on dinosaurs.

If I have been mistaken in any of my premises on this point (application 
of ICZN rules, etc.), then perhaps some stock taking might be in order.


*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*
Norman R. King                                       tel:  (812) 464-1794
Department of Geosciences                            fax:  (812) 464-1960
University of Southern Indiana
8600 University Blvd.
Evansville, IN 47712                      e-mail:  nking.ucs@smtp.usi.edu