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Liaoxiornis beats Lingyuanornis and other Chinese mysteries

From: Ben Creisler bh480@scn.org
Liaoxiornis beats Lingyuanornis and other Chinese mysteries

Many thanks to Mickey for clarifying the Lingyuanornis 
story. I haven't seen the Lingyuanornis paper yet, but I 
take Mickey and Jerry's word that the specimen is simply 
the counter-slab to the type specimen for Liaoxiornis. As 
Mickey mentioned, which name is valid depends on the order 
of publication. As it turns out, that can be a very tricky 
issue for anything that first appears in the journal 
Chinese Science Bulletin, and I did a bit of research to 
straighten out the mess.

There are TWO versions of the Chinese Science Bulletin--
one in Chinese called Kexue Tongbao and an English version 
called Chinese Science Bulletin. Both are published twice 
a month (24 issues a year). Naturally articles first 
appear in the Chinese version, then are translated for the 
English version---BUT the order in which English articles 
appear doesn't seem to follow any strict pattern.  An 
article that first appears in Chinese can appear in the 
English language version from 2 to 6 months after the 
original publication in Chinese. As a result the contents 
gathered in a single issue for the Chinese version may not 
match the contents later published in a single issue in 
English.  This discrepancy, along the delay for 
translation and publication, means that correct 
publication date and citation info for new taxa must be 
based SOLELY on the Chinese version of the article. A good 
example of the problem is the date for Longipteryx. The 
Chinese description appeared in the December 2000 issue of 
Kexue Tongbao but the English language version did not 
appear until the June 2001 issue of the Chinese Science 
Bulletin. The recommended citation might be something like:
Zhang, F., Zhou, Z., Hou, L., and Gu, G. 2000.  Early 
diversification of birds: Evidence from a new opposite 
Kexue Tongbao 45(24), December, 2000: 2650-2657
(Chinese)/Chinese Science Bulletin 46(11), June, 2001: 945-
950 (English).

UNFORTUNATELY, the Zoological Record, Biosis, Georef and 
other databases appear to use the English-language version 
of the Chinese Science Bulletin as the source instead of 
the original Chinese publication. The citation for 
Liaoxiornis I found in all databases was for the May, 1999 
issue of the Chinese Science Bulletin, which, on its face, 
would make Liaoxiornis a junior synonym of Lingyuanornis.

Without going into too much gory detail, here is the 
situation based on the Chinese publications ONLY:

Liaoxiornis appeared in the first-half of February 1999 
issue of Kexue Tongbao; Lingyuanornis appeared in the 
March issue of Chinese Geology (which is a monthly). 

Hou, L. and Chen, P. 1999. Liaoxiornis delicatus gen. et 
sp. nov., the smallest Mesozoic bird. Kexue Tongbao 44(3), 
February, 1999: 311-315 (Chinese)/ Chinese Science 
Bulletin 44(9), May, 1999: 834-838 (English).

Ji, Q. and Ji, S. 1999. A new genus of the Mesozoic birds 
from Lingyuan, Liaoning, China. CHINESE GEOLOGY 1999(3) 
262, 1999: 45-48. [Lingyuanornis]. 

The February date for Liaoxiornis is confirmed by a short 
article in the Beijing Review, which is available online:

Click on Vol 42, No. 16, then under National Report:
Liaoxiornis Delicatus: The Smallest Bird from the Early 

[Note that the Beijing Review publishes short reports from 
time to time about new fossil discoveries in China. Also, 
the first hyphen in the url IS required.]

A table of contents to Kexue Tongbao volume 24, year 2000 
is available in Chinese (in PDF) at: