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Scrotum humanum



 Fri, 24 Jul 1998 00:41:06 EDT, Dinogeorge wrote...

"I'm pretty sure Halstead (all by himself, if I recall correctly--a paper in
some "journal of facetious science"--don't remember the title, drat) credited
the name _Scrotum humanum_ to Brookes 1763 (post-Linnaeus), which is why he
"pretended" that the name was a validly proposed binomen. Thus _Scrotum
humanum_ is invalid not because it is pre-Linnaean but because it is a _nomen
oblitum_--a forgotten name not used scientifically for 50 years after its
proposal. Not to mention that the type specimen is the distal end of a large
theropod femur not diagnosable to the species level, and is also lost,
surviving only as a published figure. Please check, as I'm going by memory
here; my files are still boxed up."

Spot on, George.  The reference is:

Halstead, L.B.  1970.  _Scrotum humanum_ Brookes 1763 - the first named
dinosaur.  Journal of Insignificant Research, vol. 5: 14-15.

I quote (p. 15):  "... _Scrotum humanum_ was for the purposes of zoological
nomenclature perfectly valid, as it was post-Linnean, i.e. after 1758.
However, as this first valid name given to a dinosaur has never been used in
the same context by subsequent workers, then according to the current Rules
of nomenclature, _Scrotum humanum_ should be considered, ironically, a
_nomen oblitum_."

nomen oblitum means, literally, a forgotten name... one that has been
overlooked, ignored, forgotten, never used and has thus expired.
Incidentally, Halstead pointed out that Brookes probably didn't intend the
name to have been taken literally.  As was common practice among early
naturalists, the name was coined purely on the basis of superficial resemblance.

Back to the swamp...
Tony Thulborn