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Re: Details on Capitalsaurus: Multiple musings....

Hello All!

I'm back from my sabattical- where I sojourned the high Hindu- Kush, meditating, reflecting and KILLING Taliban and Al Qaeda! No! Wait! that was a dream ;-)

Actually, I've been back on list albeit lurking since the first of January and only heuristically going through email when my mailbox became saturated with the above subject line. You made me  decloak!  First off thanks Tracy for watching my back: Tim, no problema, Tom- you get the "Patience of Job and Sage-Yoda Award" for your wise advise, and Mickey.... watch those tangents!

I've cut and pasted from several emails so bear with me. My replies are within...

If I had, yes.  But.... ahem... I DIDN'T PUBLISH THE NAME AND DIAGNOSIS.  I
might in the future, depending on what the ICZN says regarding the need to
create new genera for species clearly not in the genus they were originally
assigned to, and what Kranz says about it.

Writing anything vaguely resembling a diagnosis on EMAIL may be considered by certain individuals as a defacto description!
I've talked to Peter Kranz about his erecting new taxa based on poor material. On the one hand I _can_ see his point but on the other I disagree with him as do most of the VP community. Peter's thinking on this, i.e., "Capitalsuarus" and "Magulodon muirkirkensis," both nomina nuda (and dubia I might add) were so erected as to enhance "better communication and discussion" regarding the enigmatic Arundel taxa. Like I said, there are merits and drawbacks to this approach.  On a more fundamental level, as far as politicians and -news_reporters_ are concerned, it gives some a sense of importance and conveys to the politicians-the ones we all want to impress at some point, a modicum of provenience. Scientifically of course it is all worthless! VP is rife with defunct taxa as the Syntarsus fiasco so aptly illustrates! We do not need someone INTENTIONALLY erecting new nomina nuda-dubia , etc., for capricious reasons.

....M.M said...
>I did say-
">In any case, because the taxon has been previously described (albeit under
>a different name), I hope this doesn't count as scooping Kranz.  Instead I
>hope it publicizes knowledge of just what the taxon he published was
intended to do- provide a stable generic name for a potentially valid
>Arundel theropod."

You're not scooping Kranz but you are in fact _confounding_ possibly ongoing and future work with use of another useless name! Yours and Peter's nomenclature do not add one iota of information that sheds any NEW light on a largely undiagnostic vertebra! Not one! You are destabilizing the nomenclature!

>... at the start of my "Details on Capitalsaurus" post.  Redescribing a
>previously described specimen is not like describing an undescribed one.  If
i>t was published, I could see a problem, but it's not.  Actually, Kranz
>wants me to publish it, so I don't think he'd have a problem if it was.

Again, you are falling into the nomenclature trap. You ARE espousing a description-one that may be used regardless of merit. And, Peter, much to my and others' chagrin, is notorious for "wanting" people to do creation things. That in and of itself does not make it the _proper_ thing to do. Do not get me wrong. I AM NOT accusing, implying or in any way associating any nefarious motives to _MY friend_ Peter Kranz. This is more a philosophical difference. One that is grounded in well established convention.

> Now
>that all of this "Dinosaur Act" stuff and list discussion is taking place,
>I'll probably consider it.  I'll do some research, contact Kranz and see
>where to go from there....

Indeed DO the research. Again I submit that Kranz is the last place to check. In this case, you cannot make a valid taxon from ONE lousy theropod indef. vert! (That blows it! I'll bet a six pack o'beer that this gets forwarded to Peter before I get the first response from the list. Any takers?)

>But the warning is appreciated.  I'll be sure not to scoop others (else
>you'd have all seen my thoughts on the aye-aye theropod and its phylogenetic
>position by now  bwa-ha-ha :-) ).

No. More like Caveat Emptor! Mickey, I like and enjoy your "Details On.." I admire your zeal. And, I have made similar boners in the past. But I do take issue with the tangents you take regarding interpretations. Specifically with our discussion viz, Capitalsaurus where I NEVER advocated your use of "Capitalsaurus potens." If anything, for now at least, the vert ascribed to "Creosaurus potens" should rightly be regarded as theropda indeterminate!


>It's sort of a tricky situation.  Creosaurus potens (Lull, 1911) is based on
>the same specimen as "Capitalsaurus" (Kranz, 1998).  I've verified this by
>talking to Kranz and Lipka.  It's certainly not Allosaurus (=Creosaurus),
>nor is it Dryptosaurus (as suggested by Gilmore 1921).  So Kranz wanted to
>place it in a new genus, hence "Capitalsaurus". 

ON what grounds? It por\sesses NO diagnostic features and is thus INDETERMINATE!

Tom Holtz- Sage and kin of Job opined:
>Anyone who holds onto an idea simply because it "feels right" or that they
>"can't imagine any other way it could happen" should consider the following:
  >  *Say something "feels right" to you, but "feels wrong" to me.  Which should
>a third party choose?  And since when was Nature constrained by our feelings
>about it?
>   *Say you "can't imagine any other way it could happen", but I can?  What
>should a third party consider?  And do our two ideas comprise the whole of
>the possibilities for the situation?

Call the damn thing "Fred" if you want. That does not make it any more descriptive or taxonomically useful. Now if you want your name in print in some obscure "journal" only to be consigned to the ash heap of history when someone finally does sink your nomenclature-go for it. A prime case in point is the paper done in part by Brenda Chinnery, myself, Mike Brett- Surman where we in fact sunk Kranz's "Magulodon muirkirkensis" and assigned the teeth in question to Neoceratopsia _indet._! As it should be.

> believe that the specimen was found during the EXCAVATION of the sewer.
>And yes, the bedrock of the Washington, D.C. area (at least east of the Fall
>Line) is Cretaceous and Paleogene sediments.

One specimen was found while the sewer line was being bug. ANOTHER specie, a tibia, was found in the 1940's during excavation of the McMillan Reservoir and is also ascribed to "C.potens" IIRC.

> Of course it is just a non-diagnostic tail vert, and of course
> this is just a nomen nudum.  It just happens to have a very...
> enthusiastic supporter.


>You really really have to be careful, especially if what you wrote ever was
>published. YOUR name would be connected to the genus because you also gave a
>diagnosis with it. If he's not going to do it, then you don't either. Do you
>want to be known as the person who scoops other paleontologists? Also,
>writing it up before it was formally published by the author is not good
>either. Just watch what you do so you don't mess up anyone else's research.

Here here! It seems that these days, one can "publish" a description on just about any medium- toilet paper comes to mind. And should be as judiciously discarded!

>When he refers to Capitalsaurus he puts it in quotes "Capitalsaurus"; as in
>Large carnivore, "Capitalsaurus, (type of evidence), vertebra; Large
>carnivore (possibly "Capitalsaurus"), teeth and various isolated post
>Don't start supposing and miss interpreting things to make something its
>not. You have to be careful; this will confuse people even more.

Absolutely! Arundel taxonomic nomenclature is convoluted enough without recent influxes of "noise."

>And yes I agree the name sucks, almost as much as the specimen it is
>referred to. Why they didn't use a better represented animal like Astrodon
>or Pleurocoelus I"ll never know. Wait, they couldn't because Texas already
>has Pleurocoelus as its state fossil! Does the government know what
>Pleurocoelus is better than the paleontologist? We don't even really know
>what it is. It is based on Glen Rose fossil material. I can't wait till the
>type fossil from Texas is either renamed or referred to a different
>better-known sauropod.

Pure politics. that's all I can say. Besides. Peter did get Astrodon johnstoni established as the Maryland State dino.
Another point comes to mind regarding Kranz. Peter is one hell of a ground pounder for Maryland paleo. HE has indeed plied the halls of state, county, and city governments, politicians, schools, and scout troops to foster a better appreciation of the Maryland Dinosauria. While I don't agree with all his methods, he has a penchant for the art of pressing the flesh and twisting of arms. Thus he is as much a compliment to yours truly (a field - research kind of guy) as he can be an opponent. Like Bakker, he's our maverick. (Again no insult intended!)

>Ah, government screw ups, you gotta love em for it :)

Indeed. Government has a propensity for ruining a bad day!

Finally, another sage once said...

>We really have to stop coming up with God awful names. A certain Utah-based >worker is King when it comes to this, but lets leave him in a kingdom of one.


Thomas R. Lipka
Geobiological Research
2733 Kildaire Drive
Baltimore, Md. 21234 USA