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Putting the "No Genera" Principle to the Test
Late in 1999, _National Geographic_ published a progress
report by John Flynn on new mostly non-dinosaurian Triassic
Madagascar fossils, and this was formally reported in _Science_
(Flynn et al., 1999, Science 286: 763-765). The traversodont
reported from that article has been named (*Menadon besairei*),
along with a second species (*Dadadon isaloi*) and reports of
possibly two more (Flynn et al., 2000, _JVP_ 20(3): 422-427). In
reflection of recent criticism of Linnean ranks and stemming way
back to Hennig, 1986, Flynn et al. have chosen some well-placed
terminology that should interest the list in general, even
though the fossils are not dinosaurs:
"Although binomial in appearance, the taxon names proposed
below are bipartite species names; the first portion is a
praenomen (Griffiths, 1976) [I'll be rendering the citations
below -- JAH] rather than a genus name (see also Cantino et al.,
1999). The penultimate lines of our taxonomic hierarchies below
(i.e., those ending in Flynn et al., 2000, nov.) are redundant,
but are included to meet editorial requirements." (pg. 722)
The hierarchy suggested is as follows:
Taversodontidae (sensu Flynn et al., 1999c)
Menadon Flynn et al., 2000, nov.
Menadon besairei sp. nov.
Dadadon Flynn et al., 2000, nov.
Dadadon isaloi sp. nov.
Flynn et al. seem to have set the precedent paper in not
labelling their "praenomen" a "genus," leaving us to discuss the
merits of doing the same, or continuing with what is certainly
an historic enterprise.
That is, no gen. nov., due to the reflection of no true
meaning to the concept genus but to establish a bionomial. A
species being the basemost category and representing the
organism itself, it is a valid monnicker, but that ranks above
this are somewhat arbitrary to the point you can discard them.
And so too to the taxa established as ranks, both are arbitrary.
But a double arbitrariness is unneccesary and befuddling. Think
about it: What would you rather preserve, if you had a choice,
ranks or taxa? [Ranks are not taxa and have no biological
Cantino, P.D.; Bryant, H.N.; de Queiroz, K.; et al.. 1999.
Species names in phylogenentic nomenclature. _Systematic
Biology_ 48: 790-807.
Flynn, J.J.; Parrish, J.H.; Rakotosamimanana, B.;
Ranivoharimanana, L.; Simpson, W.F.; & Wyss, A.R. 2000. New
traversodontid (Synapsida: Eucynodontia) from the Triassic of
Madagascar. _Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology_ 20 (3):
Flynn, J.J.; Parrish, J.H.; Rakotosamimanana, B.; Simpson,
W.F.; Whatley, R.L.; & Wyss, A.R. 1999. A Triassic fauna from
Madagascar, including early dinosaurs. _Science_ 286: 763-765.
Griffiths, G.C.D. 1976. The future of Linnaean nomenclature.
_Systematic Zoology_ 25: 168-173.
Jaime A. Headden
Where the Wind Comes Sweeping Down the Pampas!!!!
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