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Re: Nomenclature

In a message dated 10/17/98 8:08:03 AM EST, gbabcock@best.com writes:

<< Is there a distinction between the correct or preferred uses of the
 following terms (which appear to be used interchangeably)?>>

Yes, there is, but nobody seems to give a damn. So the terms are used
interchangeably, with consequent loss of precision. (This kind of stuff is
very straightforward, but every few months this problem reappears on this
list. Why is it so difficult to get across??)
<< ceratopian vs. ceratopid>>

The former is a member of the order, suborder, or clade Ceratopia (unlike
Ceratopsia, this is the properly formed name from the genus _Ceratops_); the
latter is a member of the family Ceratopidae (= incorrectly formed name
Ceratopsidae). Ceratopidae is included within Ceratopia, so every ceratopid is
also a ceratopian, but not every ceratopian is a ceratopid (e.g.,
_Psittacosaurus_, _Protoceratops_).

<< tyrannosaur vs. tyrannosaurid>>

A tyrannosaurid is any member of the family Tyrannosauridae, whereas a
tyrannosaur, at least theoretically, is any member of the genus
_Tyrannosaurus_. Thus, _Albertosaurus_ and _Gorgosaurus_ are not tyrannosaurs
but are tyrannosaurids. Nobody remembers the proper usage of the term
"tyrannosaur," however, so it is often incorrectly used as a synonym of

For Heaven's sake, don't call tyrannosaurs "tyrannosauruses" the way the AOL
spell-checker does. Good grief!

<< stegosaur vs. stegosaurid>>

Ditto as for tyrannosaur above. The correct term for a member of the order,
suborder, or clade Stegosauria is "stegosaurian," not "stegosaur," which is
any member of the genus _Stegosaurus_.

<< ankylosaur vs. ankylosaurid>>

Ditto as for tyrannosaur and stegosaur above. Members of group Ankylosauria
should be called "ankylosaurians."

<< oviraptorosaur (?) vs. oviraptorid (oviraptorosaurid ?)>>

There is no such family as Oviraptorosauridae, so the term "oviraptorosaurid"
is a complete misnomer. Since there is no genus _Oviraptorosaurus_ either, the
term "oviraptorosaur" may be used in place of "oviraptorosaurian" for a member
of the group Oviraptorosauria. "Oviraptorid" is the correct term for a member
of the family Oviraptoridae. A member of the genus _Oviraptor_ should simply
be called an "oviraptor"; no -us ending to do away with.

<< (?) vs. troodontid>>

A member of the genus _Troodon_ is a "troodont." A member of the family
Troodontidae is a "troodontid." If there were a higher group Troodontia, and
there isn't yet (but surely there soon will be!), then its members are all
"troodontians." Need the "t" on the end because of the Greek declension of

<< coelurosaur vs. coelurosaurid


There is no valid genus _Coelurosaurus_, so no family Coelurosauridae, and the
term "coelurosaurid" is a misnomer. "Coelurosaur" may thus be used for a
member of the group Coelurosauria, but the preferable, more precise name is
"coelurosaurian," of course. There is, however, a genus _Coelurus_, a family
Coeluridae, and a group name Coeluria that has priority over Coelurosauria, so
I call them "coelurans" (if they're in the genus _Coelurus_), "coelurids" (if
they're in the family Coeluridae), and "coelurians" (if they're in the group
Coeluria, senior synonym of Coelurosauria).
<< Are there such words as "tyrannosaurian" and "stegosaurian" ? >>

I created the group Tyrannosauria in my 1995 article for Gakken for
(essentially--since I didn't define it cladistically) all coelurians more
closely related to _Tyrannosaurus_ than to bullatosaurs. This would encompass
such groups and genera as shanshanosaurines, _Itemirus_, _Tonouchisaurus_, and
perhaps even _Stokesosaurus_ and _Compsognathus_ as well as the
tyrannosaurines (members of subfamily Tyrannosaurinae) we all know and love.
So there does exist a corresponding term "tyrannosaurian." For "stegosaurian,"
see above.