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RE: Elasmo

Richard Ellis wrote:

> There is actually a list called ELASMO-L.)  We all know what 
> elsmobranchs are, don't we class? Of course: they are the 
> "strap-gills," the sharks, skates and rays. 

Not directly dinosaur-related, but to put things in perspective...

If you want to witness some real taxonomic/nomenclatural controversies,
elasmobranchs are the place to be.  The _Carcharodon_ vs _Carcharocles_
debate is something you can really sink your teeth into (so to speak).  A
second inflammatory issue is the "proper" genus for _C. taurus_ (the
sandtiger shark) - _Carcharias_ vs _Odontaspis_ vs _Synodontaspis_ vs
_Eugomphodus_.  This issue that has been the subject of two ICZN decisions,
and still frays the tempers of shark experts.  The issue actually goes all
the way back to a Turkish naturalist named Rafinesque (who will be familiar
to those (e.g. George) who have tried to untangle the priority of the genus
_Ceratops_).  In 1961, the ICZN declared _Carcharias_ Rafinesque 1810 to be
an unavailable name; but reversed this opinion in 1987.  However, the 1987
ruling included an unusual caveat: if _Carcharias_ Rafinesque 1810 and
_Odontaspis_ Agassiz 1838 ever prove to be synonyms, then _Odontaspis_ gets
priority over _Carcharias_!  

Believe it or not, the "hot" issues that pop up in dinosaur nomenclature -
_Coelophysis_ vs _Rioarribasaurus_ and _Syntarsus_ vs _Megapnosaurus_ comes
to mind - look like Girl Scout campfires compared to the taxonomic
firestorms that occur in other branches of biology.