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Re: Archaeoraptor v Microraptor



On Mon, 1 Jan 2001, Tim Williams wrote:

> As I recall, "nomen dubium" refers to a name that is dubious for ANY reason.
>   "Nomen vanum" refers specificaly to a name that is invalid because the
> type specimen was inadequate for diagnosis.  There was an article in the
> _Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology_ which discussed this in depth.  (If I'm
> wrong about this, then I invite corrections.)

Ahhhh... so _nomina vana_ are a type of _nomen dubium_. That clears up a
lot.

> In this case, the crappy type specimen of _Manospondylus gigas_ might be one
> part of a more complete _T. rex_ specimen.  Does this mean that this latter
> specimen must take the name _Manospondylus gigas_?  If it does, then it
> means that we have a diagnostic specimen that carries the name
> _Manospondylus gigas_.  This would further mean that the name _Manospondylus
> gigas_ would have priority over _T. rex_.  My recollection of the discussion
> on the list that this story sparked regarded this proposition as absurd.
> The name _Manospondylus_ is attached to a non-diagnostic vertebra, and
> should be limited to this vertebra irrespective of whether this vertebra
> belongs to a more complete (and diagnostic) specimen of _T. rex_.

I think this required a special ruling by the ICZN. That, or _M. gigas_
became a _nomen oblitum_ through disuse.

> Similarly, in the _Archaeoraptor_ vs _Microraptor_ fracas, we have one
> *part* of the specimen (the tail vertebrae) carrying the name
> _Archaeoraptor_ and the whole specimen carrying the name _Microraptor_.  If
> the tail vertebrae are non-diagnostic then, like _Manospondylus_,
> _Archaeoraptor_ can be put to bed as a _nomen dubium_.

I guess I can see it both ways. On the one hand, perhaps the test of
diagnosticity should be limited to the portion of the specimen designated
at time of description. On the other hand, if two names are based on the
same individual organism, should the possibility exist that one is valid
while the other is dubious? Does the ICZN address this issue?

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