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Re: Choosing Twenty-Six Representative Genera



> Date: Fri, 26 Jan 2001 12:05:12 -0500
> From: "Thomas R. Holtz, Jr." <tholtz@geol.umd.edu>
> 
> Quite frankly your list could use MAJOR improvements.

As you wrote yourself not so long ago,
"(But Tom, tell them what you really feel... :-)"

Seriously, thanks for these comments (and while I'm here, may I offer
blanket gratitude to everyone else who's commented on my selection.)

> I would suggest using only forms for which good skeletons are known
> (or which are clearly referrable to groups for which good skeletons
> are known).

Absolutely -- this was one of the critera I listed below (though I
admit it was at the bottom of the list.)

Just before I get onto your specific comments, I do feel I have to say
something about --

> This list is, sadly, a product of the sort of web-based environment
> we live now.  People can pull up the "list of all dinosaur names"
> without any idea if the taxon is based on more than a scrap (or for
> that matter, is even formally published).

While I appreciate that in many respects I am way out of my depth on
this list, and I am very aware of the many many levels of expertise
above what I have, I do think you could give me a _bit_ more credit
than to think I picked a bunch of random names off an alphabetical
list!  In my naive way, I spent a lot of time trying very hard to get
good coverage of the major families, favouring well-represented genera
where I had that option.

All I'm saying is that, while I appreciate that my current list is not
exactly perfect, its deficiencies are at least de to my own honest
shortocmings rather than a lack of effort.  (Err, not that I'm sure
that makes me feel much better! :-)

Anyway --

Bearing in mind that my original message didn't emphasis

> > 2.  Cover all the main branches of the dinosaurian "family tree".

suufficiently, here are my meta-comments.

> >     Borogovia (Troodontidae)
> 
> Very poorly known.  Byronosaurus, at least, has a partial skull
> known.

Excellent, thanks.

> (I would have gone with Brachiosaurus or Barosaurus or Baryonyx:
> something with a resonable skeleton.

Of course these are all appealing choices (and Brachiosaurus did in
fact hold my "B" position for some time); the problem is that it's
incredibly hard to find a troodontid for the list, and I would be sad
to drop that family.  To wit, Troodon itself and Tochisaurus (which is
also very poorly known) clash with T. rex which must of course have
its page!  And Sinornithoides and Saurornithoides use one of the most
hotly-contested of all the letters: competitors which for various
reasons would work wonderfully in the book include Sauroposeidon,
Seismosaurus, Shantungosaurus, Sinornithosaurus, Sinosauropteryx,
Spinosaurus, Stegosaurus, Struthiomimus, Styracosaurus ... well, need
I go on?

That just leaves the two "B" troodontids, unless I've missed any?

> >     Futabasaurus (Tyrannosauroidea)
> 
> Completely, utterly useless.

"(But Tom, tell them what you really feel... :-)"

But seriously -- I'm a bit ashamed of this one.  At the time that I
started working on the list, there were no _no_ valid genera beginning
with "F" -- just a dubious Fabrosaurus & Fulgotherium, a couple of
nude names.

Of course, since then, Fukuiraptor has come along and solved my
problem.  Mea culpa for not spotting it.  I feel suitably chastised.

> >     Irritator (Spinosauria)
> 
> Keep in mind that the published reconstruction of the skull is just
> plain wrong: there will be some important changes when the revision
> is done (no crest, for example).

Yup And presumably, no-can can anything at all about stuff like the
height of the dorsal neural spines -- so it's going to be hard to
illustrate.

I was not ecstatic about having Irritator in here, but I thought it
better than not having any spinosaur at all.  As with the
Troodontidae, the choices here are very limited: Spinosaurus itself,
Suchomimus and Siamosaurus such as it is all collide with "S" (already
discussed), Baryonix collides with my only troodontid and Anguaturama
with Argentinosaurus, plus it's even more fragmentary than Irritator.

Any idea on how to juggle all these animals around are gratefully
received; I don't think it's going to be easy, though!

> >     Nanshiungosaurus (Therizinosauria)
> 
> Unfortunately, not very well known.  None of the "N"-name dinosaurs
> are very complete, though.

Yup.  Hard.  At least this way I get a therizinosaur, which are almost
always missing from kids' books.  Not a trend I'd want to perpetuate.

> >     Quetzacoatlus (Pterosauria)
> 
> Yeah, your kind of screwed with Q;

:-)

> Quaesitosaurus may be a junior synonym of Nemegtosaurus.

... which is a shame, otherwise it would sort of solve my titanosaur
problem, freeing up "A" for other purposes.  Ah well.  It's very
fragmentary anyway.

> Qantassaurus might serve, though.

... thought it too is known from pretty fragmentary remains, and is
also (how can I say this nicely?) well, a bit boring.  I already have
one basal ornithopod in Zephyrosaurus

Is Qinlingosaurus no use?  The remains don't seem particularly bad - a
pelvis and a few vertebrae are more than we have to go on with plenty
of genera, no?  Not that the lost particularly needs another
sauropod, but still ...

>From all this, you can see that I am inclining more and more away from
Quetzacoatlus, cool as it is.  Just seems a shame to go outside the
dinosaurs unless I really, really have to.

> >     [...]
> >     Zephyrosaurus (Ornithopoda)
> 
> Good.

Ah well, that wasn't quite as painful as I had been fearing.  Looks
like only two of the original genera - Borogovia and Futabasaurus -
have really profound problems, and they are both relatively easily
solved.

> > Can I find anything geologically earlier than Massospondylus while
> > keeping a prosauropod in the list?
> 
> Saturnalia and Plateosaurus would work; use Brachiosaurus for "B" and
> replace Sauroposeidon with Saturnalia, for example.

Hmmm.  Works, but if I were going to sacrifice Sauroposeidon (which I
am loath to do), it would more likely be in favour of Sinornithoides
thereby solving my troodontid problem.

Hmm, let's see -- if I go with Plateosaurus, I lose Parasaurolophus,
so I need a hadrosaur beginning with one of the spare "letters",
preferably F, J, Q or Z ...  Well, there's Jaxartosaurus, but that's
very fragmentary.

See?  This _is_ hard!  :-)

Again, thanks both to Thomas and to everyone else who's helped here.

 _/|_    _______________________________________________________________
/o ) \/  Mike Taylor -- <mirk@mail.org> -- http://www.miketaylor.org.uk/
)_v__/\  "Do you WAAAAANT to come back to my place, bouncy-bouncy?" --
         Monty Python.