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Type material: does it have to look pretty?



>Another thing that I want to know about is whether a type specimen can be
>replaced if a much better specimen is found?

No. Provided that the crappy material is "diagosable" of something
never before described, then it stays the type (holotype, actually).

If the crappy material is later found not to have been diagnostic
of a unique critter, then it ceases to be a valid taxon (provided
that someone publishes this fact). The key is diagnosability,
not completeness.


>I seems to me that it would
>make sense to do so.


Actually, it would be a royal mess if it was permitted.  Keep in mind that
(in paleontology, at least) *only* the holotype is known with certaintly to
be of the species. 
All specimens found subsequently are, technically-speaking,
*assigned* to that species.
The Wankel tyrannosaur, and the Williams tyrannosaur are assigned to
T. rex.   On the other hand, the specimen in the ?AMNH *is* T. rex.
>From a practical point of view, the distinction is trivial.




>If a description of a species is based on a specimens
>that is only 30 to 40 percent complete, and a 98 percent specimen is
>recovered, what the hell?

yeah, but how certain are you that the 98% complete specimen IS the same
species as the 30% complete holotype?



>Is science bettered because of this, if that's
>the way it happens now?

It would muddy the uniqueness and significance of holotypic
material if this rule were enacted.
                 <pb>