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Re: Megapnosaurus and the ethics of zoological nomenclature

This is a valid question.  When the requirement of a new name first came
to light for us in 1996, I sent a letter to Dr. Raath at the last address
I had for him, in Zimbabwe.  No answer was received. I did a websearch
from him at that time, and found no other address for him.  I then
contacted a well-known dinosaur worker, who told me that Dr. Raath had in
fact died.  We proceeded on the basis of that information, having waited a
considerable period after sending the letter before submitting the note.

Clearly, my source was mistaken about Dr. Raath's death, but I did go
through the process of writting to Dr. Raath and waiting several years
before proceeding. I am glad to hear that he is alive, after all.

Michael Ivie 

On Sat, 2 Feb 2002 bh480@scn.org wrote:

> 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 
> at:
> Michael A. Raath, PhD 
> Curator of Collections 
> 106mar@cosmos.wits.ac.za
> http://www.wits.ac.za/science/palaeontology/bpistaff.html
> Bernard Price Institute for Palaeontological Research,
> University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg
> See these comments from a 1998 newsletter available 
> online: 
> 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. 
> http://www.up.ac.za/academic/acadorgs/zssa/aardvark/no2_199
> 8/bpi.html