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Re: Layperson

Allan wrote:
>         Personally, while I like Apatosaurus, and realize the rules governing 
> its
> precedence over Brontosaurus, I have to agree to a certain extent with Stephen
> J. Gould who wrote that the name Brontosaurus is such a good name, an apt
> name, and it should be kept.

I agree.  I'd like the whole genus to be renamed _Brontosaurus_. 
Unfortunately, rules are rules, and you gotta stick to 'em if they're to
mean anything at all.  

> I know that the general public is usually flabbergasted when told that their
> favorite giant herbivore {I know, I know, some people REALLY like
> Indracatherium}, is no longer called Brontosaurus.  

Actually, I'd wager that most people who have heard of that animal know
it by its old name: _Baluchitherium_.  The discovery that
_Baluchitherium_ is a junior synonym of _Indricotherium_ is fairly
recent and known to few people outside paleontology.  Even more
recently, I saw somewhere that _Indricotherium_ is *also* a junior
synonym (geez, where does it end?), but I don't recall this latest
competitor for generic name for that beastie.  

> Now, imagine their chagrin
> when they hear mutterings about T. rex really being Dynamosaurus!!!
> (Personally, I think T. rex should stay - I think whatever evidence there is
> about Dynamosaurus is scant).

Little chance of this, I think -- according to the references I have,
the type specimen of _T. rex_ and the specimen originally named
"Dynamosaurus" were discovered the same year, 1902, and the rex specimen
was described first.  That makes _Tyrannosaurus_ the legal and correct
name under the rules of nomenclature.

>         I think the general public has no clue about how science really 
> works.  We're
> taught in school that scientists get an idea, then they test it, then they
> publish it.  They don't realize the level of work involved with getting to the
> point where a hypothesis can be made, nor do they realize that part of science
> is that different people have different ideas that each feels is right.  This
> part confuses them.  They don't realize that the details are that important,
> and they don't understand how names and stories can change.  This is one the
> best things about science - and most people miss it.  The capacity for ideas,
> discussion (even heated), and for change is what makes science work.


-- JSW