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Re: Stegosaurus species

At 12:32 AM 10/19/99 -0500, Rob Meyerson wrote:
>On the subject of species classification, do we need to have a certain 
>number of specimens uncovered until we have a good idea of where to draw the 
>line between each species?  What I have noticed is that when dinosaurs were 
>first discovered centuries ago, there were dozens of new species described.  
>Over the past half-century, many of these "separate" species have been 
>redefined and sunk together under one or two names.

There are a number of reasons for this.

First, the pre-evolutionary typological species concept led to a tendency
to separate anything with a distinguishable morphology.  This even happened
with living animals. This approach to species lasted for quite some time,
even *after* the publication of _Origin_.

Seccond, there was an *intense* competition for the "honor" of naming new
species.  This was especially true of the two North American
paleontological giants: Marsh and Cope.  They tended to more or less
*ignore* each other's names, in addition to trying to find excuses to name
as many species as they could themselves.

Between these two factors, we got lots of species named for minor
osteological differences (in a few cases even for pathological or
post-mortem damage).

May the peace of God be with you.         sarima@ix.netcom.com