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

A similar situation arose when Howse and Milner (1993) described Ornithodesmus as a troodontid.  It was only known from a sacrum, so could only be distinguished from Saurornithoides junior among other troodontids.  They decided it was a "nomen vanum", so perhaps "Capitalsaurus" deserves this type of validity.

AFAIK a nomen vanum, an "empty name", is a name without a type specimen. Ornithodesmus has one, doesn't 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.

I'm rather confused by the fact you never mentioned the name "Magulodon muirkirkensis" in that article.  Wouldn't it have been proper to keep the name, but just conclude that it is indeterminate?

It was not necessary to do so. Using the name would have perpetuated it's use and contradicted our own rejection of it IMHO.

[...] I don't think authors should be allowed to "sink" a name into "taxon indet.". 

It's like me selecting Embasaurus and saying the name will no longer be used and it will be hereby known only as "Neotheropoda indet.".

No. This happens all the time. Who then, should be the final arbiter of a nomenclatural dispute? Authors working within the constructs of the ICZN and of course phylogenetic systematics are of course. The "proper" action was the exactly what we did.
In fact, the subject of naming the tooth came up while we were working on the paper. AND despite all evidnce to the contrary we could have named it. But what purpose would it have served? There would be _two_ nomina dubia. What communicative or taxonomic purpose would have been served? As has already been stated by others on this list as well as by myself at talks and elsewhere, the sytematic and taxonomic aspects of the Arundel dinosauria, and crocs, is rife with problems arising from fragmentary material and very isolated finds. It is easy to create chimera.

>AFAIK that's not allowed, it's impossible to destroy a name. The nearest thing that >can be done is to place it in the Official List of Rejected Generic Names, but even >then nobody can use the name again (create a junior homonym).

The following is from our paper: Chinnery, B. J., Lipka, T. R., Kirkland, J.I., Parrish, J. M., and Brett-Surman, M.K., Neoceratopsian teeth from the Lower Cretaceous of North America in Kirkland, J.I., and Estep, J.W., (eds.) 1998. Lower Cretaceous Terrestrial Ecosystems. New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science, Bull. No. 14, p. 297-302

Page 300, 3rd para, first column, we write...

  " The first arundel toooth to be found , USNM 33977, was tentatively named by Kranz (1996). However, no more material besides the one other tooth has been identified, and the high amount of variability among neoceratopsian teeth casts doubt on the validity of the name.  According to Maryanska and Osmolska (1975, p. 162): "The shape of the protoceratopsid tooth and the number and character of the smaller , lateral ribs are variable even in the adult individuals and vary accordingly to the place which the tooth occupies in the jaw. For these reasons, we recommend that isolated protoceratopsid teeth should not be used as a basis for the erection of new taxa."  Therefore we regard the name given to the original specimen as a nomen dubium".

Thus our analysis is based in empirical research and well grounded convention. And I might add, a 3rd tooth is in my posession as is a possible fourth!

Heh heh. Let's wait for the PhyloCode. There registered names are valid and unregistered ones aren't, so it's impossible to accidentally create a valid name. Registration also practically destroys the possibility of homonymy -- cases like Syntarsus won't happen again after January 1, 200n. :-)

Having not yet read Phylocode, although I do have it, I cannot see where  "registering a name" would have prevented the foregoing discussion. Unlesss I misunderstand you it seems to imply that had Kranz "registered" his nomen dubium that somehow it would be valid? If that's the case, it is a lousy rule: One I hope get's modified or thrown out. That's another can of worms I don't even want to open! ;-)


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