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RE: corrections to earlier post...



> From: owner-dinosaur@usc.edu [mailto:owner-dinosaur@usc.edu]On Behalf Of
> Paleo_Mont
>
> And the error I just relized this morning... unfortunataly I didnt catch
> this one. _Saurornitholestes langstoni_ to _Velocirapter langstoni?_
> (not what i had previously.)
>
> Who is it that has suggested that the  names be sonnomonized? and
> why? or is
> it just a nasty rumor I have heard?

It is not a nasty rumor.  Greg Paul considered _Saurornitholestes langstoni_
to be congeneric with _Velociraptor mongoliensis_ back in his phylogeny of
archosaurs back in the 1984 Mesozoic Terrestrial Ecosystems meeting,
elaborated in a paper in Hunteria around 1987, and discussed in his classic
Predatory Dinosaurs of the World.  If these two belong to the same genus,
then _Velociraptor_ has priority.

Of course, there are several things to consider:
1) The type of _S. langstoni_ is rather limited: there isn't much preserved.
This makes comprehensive comparisons somewhat problematic.

2) At the time of the proposed synonymy, only a few dromaeosaurs were known:
Deinonychus, Saurornitholestes, Dromaeosaurus, Velociraptor, Adasaurus.
With the subsequent discoveries of Bambiraptor, Utahraptor,
Sinornithosaurus, etc., comparisions among all these guys should be made.

3) The biggie: What is a "genus"?  There is no real scientific consensus on
the definition or meaning of "genus", beyond a book-keeping device to hold
species.  If you are more interested in book-keeping than science, than
"genus" might be of great importance; otherwise, however, it doesn't have
any particular biological significance.
        This isn't simply a matter of paleontology vs. neontology; our "modern"
colleagues also have no real consensus on when two species are different "at
the generic level".  The blue whale has been at times called Balaenoptera
musculus and at other times Sibbaldus musculus.  Polar bears were originally
Ursus maritimus, then Thalarctos maritimus, then back to Ursus martimus;
American black bears as Ursus americanus or Euarctos americanus; lions as
Felis leo or Panthera leo or even Leo leo.  It's not as if any of these
animals and/or their closest relatives are particularly obscure, either.
        NOTE: this is not to say that we should be sloppy with our taxonomy!  
The
ICZN does give very useful rules for priority and so forth, and I'm not
suggesting that we ignore these.  If you consider two species to be close
enough together that use a separate generic names might be somehow
misleading, than DEFINITELY you have to use the oldest valid genus name for
that group of specimens.

So just remember: generic synonymies are important insofar as it is
important for one worker to be able to understand which species another is
refering to.  However, as I hopefully made clear in "3" above, there is no
accepted biological concensus on the meaning of "genus" nor how inclusive or
exclusive that "rank" should be in terms of morphological or behavioral or
molecular (or whatever) divesity.  Intelligent biologists can fairly
disagree with each other as to the inclusiveness or exclusiveness of a
particular "genus", and neither one is either more or less "right" about it.
This is part of the fact that Linnean taxonomy was as much an art form as a
science, as the leading practitioners of that discipline (like Simpson and
Mayr and company) agreed.

Hope this helps,

                Thomas R. Holtz, Jr.
                Vertebrate Paleontologist
Department of Geology           Director, Earth, Life & Time Program
University of Maryland          College Park Scholars
                College Park, MD  20742
http://www.geol.umd.edu/~tholtz/tholtz.htm
http://www.geol.umd.edu/~jmerck/eltsite
Phone:  301-405-4084    Email:  tholtz@geol.umd.edu
Fax (Geol):  301-314-9661       Fax (CPS-ELT): 301-405-0796