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nomenclatorial problems (was: another diatribe)



Dinogeorge wrote (4/19/96; 7:18p):

>_Lagosuchus_ hasn't been renamed. But we now know the name refers
>to (apparently) non-diagnostic lagosuchian material, and that what
>we have all been (incorrectly) citing as _Lagosuchus_ should now be
>called _Marasuchus_.  Likewise, _Coelophysis_ has not been renamed,
>but the best-known material (from Ghost Ranch) has been placed in
>the genus _Rioarribasaurus_, because the _Coelophysis_ material is
>(apparently) doubtful.

If the original _Lagosuchus_ material is NON-DIAGNOSTIC lagosuchian 
material, then how do we know it isn't also _Marasuchus_ (hence, really 
_Lagosuchus_)?

My contention is that it might have been better to add to the type 
material for _Lagosuchus_ and _Coelophysis_, so that there would no 
longer be any doubt, then emending the diagnoses of the genera in 
accordance with what the additional material shows (plesiotypes?).  Then 
the material which has historically been referred to those genera would 
legitimately belong.  I think this is standard practice for 
invertebrates.  If all of the invertebrate genera named in earlier 
decades were regarded as non-diagnostic in light of modern knowledge, and 
renamed as a result, there would be chaos, indeed.

>All those "apparently" comments are inserted because the final
>consensus is not yet in, of course.

I submit that we should have waited until there was a final consensus.  
The paleontologists of the future would have been thankful.  What's the 
hurry?  The bones aren't going anywhere!

We have ended up with a situation where we speak of "_Rioarribasaurus_ 
(formerly referred to as _Coelophysis_)," like we do now for 
_Apatosaurus_.   Then, if the decisive work shows that _Coelophysis_ was 
OK, after all, we'll have to say "_Coelophysis_ (known mistakenly for a 
short time as _Rioarribasaurus_)."  At best, in discussing 
_Rioarribasaurus_ we now must explain that the _Coelophysis_ material 
collected in the 1800's really may be _Coelophysis_, but material 
collected at Ghost Ranch since then, and historically called 
_Coelpophysis_, actually isn't.

>The _Anatotitan_ business differs from the _Lagosuchus_ and
>_Coelophysis_ business in that _Anatosaurus_ (the genus into
>which the present type species of _Anatotitan_ was originally 
>placed) is not a doubtful name but has turned out to be a 
>junior synonym of the equally well established name
>_Edmontosaurus_: _except for_ the species _Anatosaurus copei_,
>which really does belong in a different genus (according to
>the way hadrosaurids are presently classified). It should 
>have been placed in a different genus way back in 1942, when
>Lull & Wright created _Anatosaurus_. So _Anatosaurus_ has not 
>been renamed _Anatotitan_; if anything, it has been renamed
>_Edmontosaurus_. Times change.

Of course, I realize that your use of the term is correct, but what you 
call "renaming" and what someone else calls "renaming" may be two 
different things.

Don't you see that this discussion proves my earlier point?  I am fully 
confident that you have done your homework, and the above explanation is 
correct--to the letter!  I just don't think that very many people care, 
or have the patience to wade through it.  In all of the things there are 
to know about dinosaurs, how important is all of that?


*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*
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