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Re: Compsognathus prima



In a message dated 97-03-05 17:09:24 EST, PESELYG@APSU01.APSU.EDU writes:

<< Some time ago Tom Holtz questioned whether _Compsognathus prima_
 was correct or whether _prima_ should be _primus_.  The generic
 name is a Latinized coinage from two Greek roots, _kompsos_/
 _kompse:_/_kompson_, an adjective meaning "nice," "refined,"
 "elegant," "dainty," etc., and _gnathos_, a feminine noun meaning
 "jaw."  I don't know if there is any general rule that a compound
 noun takes the gender of the final element, or if the coiner of the
 name indicated which gender this word should have, but there is
 certainly nothing in Greek or Latin grammar which would prevent
 Compsognathus from being a feminine noun.  (There are words in -os
 of all 3 genders in Greek, and words in -us of both masculine and
 feminine gender in Latin.) >>

The root _gnathus_ is commonly used among pterosaur genera, and in the two
instances in which an adjectival species epithet is used with a pterosaur
_gnathus_ genus, the adjective is declined as masculine:

_Campylognathus liasicus_
_Tropeognathus mesembrinus_

Likewise, the generic name of the theropod _Procompsognathus_, whose name
derives from the name _Compsognathus_, was implicitly given a masculine
gender by the coiner of the type species

_Procompsognathus triassicus_

I have never seen the generic-name ending _gnathus_ used with a feminine
species epithet, only masculine. Unfortunately, however, no gender was
established by the original author of the name _Compsognathus_ itself, and
neither species epithet thus far used with that name is adjectival. So nobody
has either implicitly or explicitly stated the gender of the name
_Compsognathus_. But inasmuch as there is an established usage of _gnathus_
as masculine, _Compsognathus_ itself should be considered masculine rather
than feminine, despite femininity of the Greek root _gnathos_, unless
somebody petitions the ICZN (and the petition is granted) to rule
specifically that _Compsognathus_ be feminine.