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"carnosaur" classification (was Archaeopteryx Pes)




Nick,
I think you bring up a valid point below. Phylogenetic classifications tend to attempt the fine-splitting of classifications long before it is possible (much less appropriate) to do so. Therefore the "quagmire" destabilizes the taxonomy and causes unnecessary confusion.
As for the "carnosaurs" (sensu lato) in particular, I prefer to classify them as three families: Spinosauridae, Torvosauridae (= Megalosauridae), and Allosauridae (incl. sinraptors, carcharodontosaurs, and even Fukuiraptor, etc.).
I don't even like the term "carnosaurs" any more, because it means different things to different people. Carnosaurs (sensu lato) include the above three families, while carnosaurs (sensu stricto) is pretty much equivalent to my Allosauridae (formerly Allosauria/Allosauroidea). Taxonomic inflation is destabilizing in both the short term and long term. And attaching the name "Carnosauria" to any grouping is ill-advised in my opinion (even tyrannosaurs used to be dumped in the carnosaur "trash-bin").
Within a broad Allosauridae, there are two major subfamilies among "advanced" forms---Allosaurinae and Sinraptorinae---and whether a Subfamily Carcharodontosaurinae belongs within one or the other (or neither of them) is still rather controversial (not to mention the fact that some think carcharodontosaurs are not "carnosaurs" at all and belong in Abelisauridae instead).
Anyway, that is how a traditionalist (like me) might try to sort through this quagmire. In short, stop the premature splitting of larger families, and avoid using the common name "carnosaur" (or a taxon "Carnosauria")---- they are about as useless and confusing as "insectivore" and "Insectivora".
-----Ken Kinman
P.S. QUESTION: By the way, which has priority, Torvosauridae or Megalosauridae? Is it possible that one could have priority by the Zoological Code and the other priority by the PhyloCode???
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Nick wrote:
Which raises a point: all this arguing about taxonomy and what to call this or that seems a little misplaced. Before we can erect a taxonomy, we need a decent idea of how things are related, and we don't have that yet, we've got a systematic quagmire....

Foundation, then structure. Otherwise, we get situations like a Ceratosauria that uses Coelophysis as a reference taxon, so "Ceratosauria" may exclude Ceratosaurus... it just makes stuff more complicated. More than anything, we need taxonomy to be useful, but if stuff like this happens and names proliferate because we are too eager to rush in and name every concievable node and stem... well, heck if I know a solution to it all.

-N
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