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Phillip Bigelow wrote:
>If the issues raised by Tom Holtz, Mike Keesey and others are valid
>(name priority, publication date priority, etc.), and they certainly
>appear valid issues to me, then why weren't they addressed (and
>corrected) in the review process?
They may be valid issues, but only insofar as workers are interested
in working toward a common system of phylogenetic taxonomy. PT is not
regulated by any international body. Indeed, firm "rules" have not actually
been established (beyond the very basic precepts of the system). What exists
are a series of papers outlining a proposed method of phylogenetic taxonomy,
and a few other papers which have suggested improvements or additions to the
system. I am personally unaware of any work which has suggested a broad
alteration of the ideas set out in these papers (with the exception of some
quibbling on crown clades and what appears to be a general sentiment,
expressed by some in print, that autapomorphy-based taxa are not good).
However, there is nothing that says that Dr. Sereno can't make up
his own scheme, and use it. The terminology and pattern of PT seem to be
very popular with workers, even those who don't understand or appreciate all
of the consequences of the system as it has developed. Dr. Sereno has taken
what he likes of the system worked out by DeQuiroz and Gauthier. Indeed, the
dinolist's own George Olshevsky has adopted the method of delineating taxa
based on common ancestry and descent (although he allows for paraphyletic
taxa). So, in a way, "one of these kids is doing his own thing," and it's
So then, why does anyone care? Because Dr. Sereno is respected and
his lead is often followed. By adopting his own, very... er... eclectic
methodology and publishing profusely, there is the potential that consensus
on how PT should work may be more difficult to acheive (at least among
dinosaur workers). Perhaps a more concrete concern is, whether Dr. Sereno
respects priority or not, priority is a part of PT as set out by DeQuiroz
and Gauthier. Thus, although he is not obligated to use everyone else's taxa
and definitions, everyone else is obligated to use his, no matter how
>I realize that clade nomenclature rules are not as "mature" as are the
Again, I caution everyone that not all cladists have adopted PT.
Might be good if they did, but that's just my opinion.
>ICZN rules for binomials, but geez, the issues raised on the dinosaur
>list should have been dealt with *before* publication.
Well, assuming the reviewer in question was a) familiar with PT and
b) cared, they'd still have to make a case to the editors of the journal
that this was a point worthy of making a stand on. I'm not very familiar
with the peer-review process, but this sounds likely based on what I've
heard. Here again is a case where a better understanding of PT by the
greater paleontological community might be helpful, but might also be hurt
by some individuals going their own way with PT.
And don't get me wrong, technically, Dr. Sereno has every right to
do whatever he wants. It's just that someone with such a reputation for
putting cutting-edge theory into practice is applying his talents to his own
system, rather than to a common system. Or, perhaps, I'm just sore because I
don't agree with him. ;)
>Or, I could be wrong. Are the nomenclature rules in cladistics still so
>lax that there is nothing that can be done to stop this? (by "stop
>this", I mean via the review process).
Well, pertty much that's the case. What's the reviewer to say, "Hey,
don't let Paul publish this, because he's ignoring a suggestion Padian and
May made in an article in an obscure Lucas volume six years ago, about a
system not recognized by the ICZN, involving some cladistics gobblety-gook?"
The editor might just come back with, "who cares?"
Jonathan R. Wagner, Dept. of Geosciences, TTU, Lubbock, TX 79409-1053
"Only those whose life is short can truly believe that love is forever"-Lorien