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Dinosaur Genera List corrections #154
I've added a little more information to the Dinosaur Genera List. For nomina
nuda, I now list the scientific name of the genus (or genera, in some cases)
to which the material has been referred subsequent to the initial publication
of the name, if this information has appeared in published works. For
preoccupied names, I now list their replacement names, if such have been
proposed in the literature. And I've added the notation [nomen rejectum] to
names that have formally been added to the ICZN Official Index of Rejected
and Invalid Generic Names in Zoology, along with the name that replaced the
rejected name. Short annotations explain exceptional cases.
Now for a recent nomenclatural horror story (thanks to Stephen Czerkas, Tracy
Ford, and Mickey Mortimer for their assistance with this one).
I presume readers of this post are familiar with the case of Archaeoraptor
liaoningensis, whose putative type specimen was found to be a chimera
deliberately constructed from two or more specimens (a dromaeosaurid and a
bird) to resemble a feathered dinosaur, and whose formal description was
therefore withdrawn from publication--but not, unfortunately, before a
photograph of the specimen and its name appeared in an article (Sloan, 1999)
on birdlike dinosaurs in the November 1999 issue of National Geographic. Soon
after the article appeared, avian paleontologist Storrs Olson opined in an
open letter to Peter Raven at National Geographic his belief that the name
Archaeoraptor liaoningensis became an available name in zoological
nomenclature as a result of that article.
Because the National Geographic article as part of its text specifically
>disclaimed< being a nomenclatural act, however, the name was actually not
available (cf. ICZN 3rd edition, Article 8[b]), and Olson was incorrect. The
National Geographic article stated that the formal description of the
material and the species Archaeoraptor liaoningensis would be published
elsewhere, and further it did not provide a description of characters
differentiating the genus and species, contra provisions of ICZN Article 13
on availability of a taxonomic name. The genus Archaeoraptor and the species
Archaeoraptor liaoningensis were nomina nuda, and Archaeoraptor was so listed
in the Dinosaur Genera List.
Then later, in a rather obscure publication from the Smithsonian (Backbone 13
#2: 1-3, April 2000), Olson >formally designated< the caudal vertebral series
of the composite Archaeoraptor specimen as the lectotype specimen of the
species Archaeoraptor liaoningensis (so as to, in his words, expunge the
dubious name Archaeoraptor from avian paleontology). >This< article >did<
make the names Archaeoraptor and A. liaoningensis available! A type specimen
(IVPP V 12330) for the species was designated, and the species was described
both within the paper and by reference to the National Geographic article--a
horrible description by scientific standards, but a description nonetheless.
Thus, in April 2000, Archaeoraptor ceased to be a nomen nudum. Before Olson's
article, the name Archaeoraptor could have safely been ignored by the
paleontological community until the time it was formally proposed, if ever;
but Olson worsened the situation by formalizing the name himself. Now the
name cannot be sunk except by petitioning the ICZN.
Furthermore, I have confirmed that the more recently described Microraptor
zhaoianus Xu, Zhao & Wang, 2000 (Nature 408: 705â708) is the dinosaur whose
tail, directly from the counterslab of the holotype specimen, was used to
doctor the Archaeoraptor liaoningensis specimen depicted in National
Geographic. Olson's April 2000 article appeared several months before the
article in Nature naming Microraptor zhaoianus, so unbeknownst to the authors
of the Nature article Microraptor zhaoianus became a junior >objective<
synonym of Archaeoraptor liaoningensis Olson, 2000 the instant it was
published (both species are based on the same type specimen, namely IVPP V
12330). The name Archaeoraptor has clear priority over Microraptor, and the
species A. liaoningensis has clear priority over M. zhaoianus!
Naturally, this kind of shenanigan cannot stand. In due time, I will,
assuming nobody else will already have done so, petition the ICZN to formally
add the names Archaeoraptor and Archaeoraptor liaoningensis to their indexes
of rejected generic and specific names, so as to maintain the names
Microraptor and Microraptor zhaoianus as the correct names for this genus and
species. Anyone who would like to join in this petition may email me
privately. The avian portion of the Archaeoraptor chimera, says Stephen
Czerkas, will be described by him as a new genus and species of Mesozoic bird
in a paper now in review.
In the meantime, I have changed the listing for the genus Archaeoraptor to
read as follows:
Archaeoraptor Czerkas vide Sloan, 1999 vide Olson, 2000 [nomen rejectum
(pending) => Microraptor]
Finally, in my previous post (DGL corrections #153) I suggested that the
nomina nuda "Katsuyamasaurus" and "Kitadanisaurus" might be associated with
material referable to the new genus Fukuiraptor. Now that I have seen the
Fukuiraptor paper, I consider it unlikely that "Kitadanisaurus" (for a
dromaeosaurid tooth) is referable to Fukuiraptor, though "Katsuyamasaurus"
(for allosaurid elements) could well be. I have changed the listing for
Fukuiraptor in Mesozoic Meanderings #3 to reflect this reappraisal.
The Dinosaur Genera List appears in its entirety at
My home page
links to the Dinosaur Genera List, of course.