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Re: Megapnosaurus and the ethics of zoological nomenclature

In a message dated 2/2/02 11:32:49 AM Pacific Standard Time, bh480@scn.org 

<< 3. A zoologist should not publish a new replacement name 
 (a nomen novum) or other substitute name for a junior 
 homonym when the author of the latter is alive; that 
 author should be informed of the homonymy and be allowed a 
 reasonable time (at least a year) in which to establish a 
 name. >>

I followed this guideline in the late 1980s when I discovered that the then 
newly proposed sauropod name Protognathus was preoccupied (by yes, another 
BEETLE). I wrote He a letter, but after a year I received no reply, so I went 
ahead and called it Protognathosaurus in MM #2. Perhaps the letter never 
reached He in China; I don't know. But at least I gave it a shot before doing 
the rename.

Regarding Protognathus, what caused me (and Tracy Ford, who was with me at 
the American Museum in NY at the time) to look the name up in a nomenclator 
was that Protognathus just seemed too "simple" a name; I had the feeling that 
someone somewhere had already proposed it. The same alarm bells should have 
gone off with Syntarsus, but I suppose everyone had already figured that 
someone else had checked the name and found it was clean.