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In a message dated 97-02-22 03:51:06 EST, franczak@ntplx.net (Brian Franczak)

<< _Tenontosaurus tilletorum_ >>

Peter Dodson and I have had a little row over whether species epithets
honoring families should take the genitive singular ending (-i) or the
genitive plural ending (-orum). Back in 1991 (_Mesozoic Meanderings_ #2 first
printing), I emended the names of four dinosaur species from singular to
plural because the original authors indicated that the epithets honored more
than one person. The Zoological Code >mandates< (it leaves no choice)
emendation to the plural ending in such cases. Those dinosaur species were

_Sauropelta edwardsi_
_Tenontosaurus tilletti_
_Avaceratops lammersi_ and
_Stenotholus kohleri_

Now, in two of those cases, the species epithet explicitly honors two
separate individuals: _Sauropelta edwardsi_ honors Nell and Tom Edwards of
Bridger, Montana; and _Stenotholus kohleri_ honors Terry and Mary Kohler of
Milwaukee, Wisconsin. In these cases there is no question about the Code's
meaning, because such a case (husband and wife) is >explicitly< provided in
the text of the Code as an example of a situation requiring emendation from
singular to plural genitive. The correct names of these species are
_Sauropelta edwardsorum_ and _Stenotholus kohlerorum_.

In the other two cases, the species epithet honors a >family.< _Tenontosaurus
tilletti_ honors the Lloyd Tillett family of Lovell, Wyoming and _Avaceratops
lammersi_ honors the Lammers family of Shawmut, Montana. The Code does not
explicitly rule whether families should be treated as singular or plural, but
since a name such as "tilletti," because it is a singular genitive, standing
by itself explicitly honors only a single person, whereas rewritten as
"tillettorum" (plural genitive) it unquestionably honors more than one person
(i.e., a family), I thought it proper to remove any ambiguity and emend to
the plural ending in these two cases as well. Thus we had _Tenontosaurus
tillettorum_ and _Avaceratops lammersorum_, honoring  without doubt >several
people< named Tillett and Lammers, respectively.

This sat ill with Peter Dodson, who felt it incorrect to change the ending
from singular genitive _lammersi_ to plural genitive _lammersorum_. After
all, he said, there was only >one family< named Lammers being honored.
(_Avaceratops lammersi_ was Peter's dinosaur, of course, and he didn't take
tampering with his creation lightly.) Although I explained my position, he
nevertheless took the matter up with Philip Tubbs, head of the ICZN, who
eventually came down on the side of established usage and proclaimed the
emendation unnecessary.

Well, fine. Actually, both Peter and Dr. Tubbs are dead wrong grammatically.
(Don't believe me? Consider the alternative: Suppose Peter
had--correctly--named his dinosaur _Avaceratops lammersorum_ to begin with.
Who would have tried to emend the species epithet to the genitive singular?)
But since the letter from Tubbs is a de facto ICZN ruling to >retain<
genitive singular in the case that >one< family is initially honored in a
singular-genitive species epithet, his ruling also applies to my emendation
to _Tenontosaurus tillettorum_. Its original species epithet, _tilletti_,
must be deemed correct, and _Tenontosaurus tillettorum_, like _Avaceratops
lammersorum_, becomes an "unjustified emendation" according to the Code.
Thus, _Avaceratops lammersi_ and _Tenontosaurus tilletti_ should be retained
as the correct names of those two species.