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VON MEYER'S FEATHER



Tracy Ford kindly passed on news of this..

> Griffiths, P. J., 1996. The Isolated Archaeopteryx Feather: 1-26.
 
> It describes the first feather of Archaeopteryx in detail. The
> conclusion is that this feather is smaller than any of the other
> Archaeopteryx specimens. It either came from a juvenile specimen, an
> Archaeopteryx bavarica specimen or a new genus. The excat locality and
> horizon is in question.  

This is really interesting, as it's always been a slightly problematical issue.
AFAI can tell, it's unclear whether von Meyer, who created the name
_Archaeopteryx lithographica_, intended it for that single feather, found in
1860, or for the first skeletal specimen, the London specimen, found in 1861.
No one has ever proved that the feather really belongs to the animal we know as
_Archaeopteryx lithographica_, though it would be the most conservative view to
assume so. Ostrom, in his description of the '_Pterodactylus crassipes_'
_Archaeopteryx_, referred to the feather as indeterminate and expressed
uncertainty as to whether the name was intended for the feather or not.

If it was, that makes the feather the type for the taxon _Archaeopteryx
lithographica_, and if it's not from the same animal as those represented by the
skeletons (one of the possibilities apparently explored in Griffiths' new
paper), let's be silly and say that the skeletal animals cannot be called
_Archaeopteryx lithographica_. They must be something else. If - if - (lots of
'ifs' here) that feather is from a different taxon, I've little doubt that the
ICZN would decide once and for all that the London specimen be designated the
type of _Archaeopteryx lithographica_.

So... can anyone report: has this been done? And need the community start a
petition? 

All of which goes to show... taxonomy, when taken to stupid extremes by
misguided individuals such as myself, is a thing you can get very silly about.

--------------

Ruthy, Debbie, Sherrie, Nancy, Barbie, Debby, Julie, Chloe, Trudy... they're not
tomorrow's girls.

DARREN NAISH