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Megapnosaurus and the ethics of zoological nomenclature

From: Ben Creisler bh480@scn.org
Megapnosaurus and the ethics of zoological nomenclature

Why was Michael Raath not contacted when someone 
discovered the name Syntarsus was preoccupied? A 
fundamental principle of the International Code Zoological 
Nomenclature is that the author of a preoccupied name 
should be allowed to propose a replacement if someone 
discovers the original name is a homonym. Not only is 
Megapnosaurus in questionable taste (funny after a few 
beers maybe), but not allowing a living scientist to 
propose his own substitute name for a taxon he originally 
studied and named  robs him of proper authorship.
Mike is still living to my knowledge and can be contacted 
Michael A. Raath, PhD 
Curator of Collections 

Bernard Price Institute for Palaeontological Research,
University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg

See these comments from a 1998 newsletter available 
Mike Raath recently went through the heart-wrenching step 
of returning to the Natural History Museum in Zimbabwe all 
the material of the small dinosaur Syntarsus which has 
been in his care for the past 12 years on loan. For him 
this was almost like losing a son, as he and this small 
dinosaur have been closely associated since he excavated 
the first specimen back in 1963! Although he says he is 
relieved no longer to carry the responsibility for looking 
after this extremely important and fragile material - 
which now falls to the Curator of Palaeontology in 
Bulawayo, Darlington Munyikwa (who completed his Honours 
in our department a few years ago) - there is a major 
drawback in that the steady stream of foreign visitors who 
ask to see the material on their stopovers in Johannesburg 
will now have to consider quite a major detour if they 
want to see it.