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Re: BRONTOSAURUS, CHARLES DARWIN, AND MEXICO CITY




Additionally, as Darren Naish has pointed out in one of the previous
incarnations of this thread, people 30 and younger have always grown up using
the name Apatosaurus, and have always grown up with the story that
Brontosaurus is not the right name (though, to be fair, many sources confused
this with the wrong head story).

This should be appended to, perhaps, 20, or 25 at most. I'm 30, but was unaware of the nomenclatural thing until in my teens. As a child, I always called it _Brontosaurus_.


>The only way to keep the genus Brontosaurus alive is do what Bakker >did and
claim that the new species A yahnapin is the type of a new genus
Eobrontosaurus and it is ancestoral to the genera Brontosaurus and
Apatosaurus. This is really pushing it and in opinion, making up names >for
the purpose of furthering an argument you know to be wrong.

This would still require that he demonstrate why _Brontosaurus_ is a valid genus (and describe which specimens demonstrate this difference). To my knowledge, this hasn't appeared in print...


what Larsen is proposing is pretty much the same thing that
happened to the genera Stenonychosaurus and Lesothosaurus: two pretty well
founded genera that were sunk into older genera whos holotypes were absolute
crap (Troodon and Fabrosaurus respectively). Please refrain from doing this
in the future :-)

Well, there is a long continuum of possibilities here. A type specimen may be "crap" in the sense that only fragments are present -- say, for example, a single skull bone -- while another specimen may be very complete but lacking that skull bone. If the skull bone of the first possesses an unusual and diagnostic feature or two, then basing a genus on it isn't a bad idea. The second specimen can't be shown to belong to the first genus because it lacks the requisite comparative element; only a third specimen, possessing both the diagnostic skull element and comparable postcrania, can show that the first two are identical and that the latter should be sunk into the former. This is a rather commonplace practice and I believe it is understood by anyone erecting a taxon that it's possible their taxon could be sunk. In the absence of data demonstrating otherwise, I perceive that this is a useful practice that only rarely induces the kind of _Apatosaurus_/_Brontosaurus_ confusion. The other option, really, is never to name _anything_ unless it is a complete skeleton, and just refer to all incomplete stuff by its collection number, because it can't be determined if it's identical to anything other incomplete material. Even then, assumptions have to be made: if an isolated tibia is discovered and found to be identical to that in a complete skeleton with a name, we could assume that the tibia belongs to that genus, but it is also possible that it belongs to a wholly different genus which happens to have a very similar tibia. Again, we do the best we can with the information at hand; future discoveries can and will always override past assessments.


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Jerry D. Harris

AS OF JULY 1, 2000:

Dept of Earth & Environmental Science
University of Pennsylvania
240 S 33rd St
Philadelphia PA  19104-6316

Phone: (215) 898-5630
Fax: (215) 898-0964

E-mail: jdharris@sas.upenn.edu
and     dinogami@hotmail.com

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