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Re: Fastovsky and Weishampel Textbook Taxa

At 12:02 PM 8/22/97 -0500, Wagner wrote:
>        The following is an alphabetical listing of taxa defined in
>Fastovsky and Weishampel's _The Evolution and Extinction of Dinosaurs. If
>you have not read this book, do so NOW! It is fantastic!

>*Avetheropoda          = {+"birds", +_Megalosaurus_}

This one is wrong, and I have written the authors with this (and other)
corrections.  Neither Greg Paul nor I have considered _Megalosaurus_ an

The formal definition of Avetheropoda (in review) is {+_Allosaurus_, +Aves}.

>*Theropoda             = {+_Tyrannosaurus_, +_Coelophysis_}

Clearly wrong, as Gauthier has already defined this elsewhere as
{-Sauropodomorpha, +Aves}.

Currie & Padian's book will deal with many of the other taxa.

>        Now the big question becomes, are these valid? Does this count as
>publication in a peer-reviewed work?

Good question!

>Are any of these (other than those marked) actually new?

Many of these have not been explicitly defined elsewhere.

>Did the authors intend to define these, or were they
>just trying to make the book easier to follow?

The latter, I think.

>        A few quick comments come to mind. These are in no way intended to
>suggest that the authors of this book did a bad job. It is an excellent
>book, and for all I know they were just using other people's definitions.
>These are just some thoughts on how this process could be improved.

>        As an aside, you can see how ineffective using higher taxon
>definitions is by looking at the above list. With no definitions of
>Saurischia or Ornithischia, how is it possible to apply the definition of

Of course, Gauthier (1986) and Padian and May (1993) have dealt with those two.

>3) Using vernacular terms as part of a definition. Even when defined
>elsewhere, it seems ill-advised to use informal names in defining taxa. For
>example, the many definitions in the literature which use "birds" as an
>anchor taxon.


Thomas R. Holtz, Jr.
Vertebrate Paleontologist     Webpage: http://www.geol.umd.edu
Dept. of Geology              Email:th81@umail.umd.edu
University of Maryland        Phone:301-405-4084
College Park, MD  20742       Fax:  301-314-9661