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Re: Bambiraptor feinbergi

Matt Bonnan wrote:

>>Well, Sonic Hedgehog was the name given to the hox gene that controls limb 
development, and this, as many on this list probably know, was named after 
the famous video game character.<<

And I honestly believe that this example is as absurd as the case of 
"Bambiraptor" and have made a fuss about it elsewhere. *Why* have we begun to 
think first of video games and cartoon characters when choosing new 
scientific terms?

>>You might even make the case that Irritator challengeri (yipes!), or 
Hallucigenia and Sanctacarias (literally Santa Claws) from the Burgess Shale 
are stretching it a bit.<<

Yes, _Irritator_ is an example of a problematic name similar to 
"Bambiraptor." But _Hallucigenia_ isn't. Wheras the former is meant as a pun, 
the latter is a legitimate use of Latin (_hallucinatio_) to *describe* a very 
odd creature.

>>Where is the so-called "dignity" in any of these names?  They are 

I'm not sure what your point is, since I would say that _Irritator_ is part 
of the problem (though I admit it at least looks better than "Bambiraptor").

>>paleo has always been looked on as a secondary science to physics, 
chemistry, biology, etc.  Of course, I would not agree with this assessment, 
but we deal with so many filters in paleo that we cannot be expected to 
conduct experiments in the same sense as scientists who can set up controls 
and repeat specific events.<<

How we choose names for new taxa isn't related to the particular limitations 
of our science. It does not follow that we have a license to be less rigorous 
in composing names, because our science may be (at times) less experimental. 
The ICZN oversees *all* taxonomic names, living and extinct, and we all work 
with the same rules.

And this is something that occurred to me last night, after I'd already 
posted . . .

All this business about names being easier to remember if they are simple or 
catchy or humorous, it's nonsense. For very many years children, *five* year 
olds, have been dealing just fine with names as complex as _Parasaurolophus_, 
_Struthiomimus_, and _Archaeopteryx_, without being able to relate them to 
cuddly cartoon characters.

Trying to second-guess the public's ability to recall a name is both futile 
and insulting, and presents us with a good case of the tail wagging the dog. 

Caitlin R. Kiernan