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RE: Syntarsus says farewell....

A couple of clarifications.

> From: owner-dinosaur@usc.edu [mailto:owner-dinosaur@usc.edu]On Behalf Of
> philidor11
> Remarkable there's any need for 'comfort'.
> 'Syntarsus' is not a name hallowed by years of use and enjoyment,
> nor is it
> very poetic.

While it is true that _Syntarsus_ may not have been as well known a dinosaur
name as the great 19th and early 20th Century ones, it DOES rank up in the
next tier of general population knowledge.  It has appeared on stamps in
various countries; it was the name for the museum journal of Zimbabwe; there
are companies named after it; and it was prominently featured in one of the
classic general-audience works on dinosaur paleontology, Bob Bakker's 1975
Scientific American article "Dinosaur Renaissance" (which informed the
general public about, well, the Dinosaur Renaissance!).

More to the point, though, it IS hallowed by years of use and enjoyment in
that arena for which Zoological Nomenclature was designed; that is,
scientific discourse.  This little critter has had many numerous papers
written about it, and even more incorporating it even it it isn't the
central taxon of focus.  As one of the most completely known Early Jurassic
theropod, and one for which both ontogenetic changes and possible sexual
dimorphism has been documented, the taxon formerly known as "Syntarsus" has
been important in growth and population studies, histology studies, and
more.  It has been featured in illustrations in several general vertebrate
zoology books.  Just because a dinosaur genus isn't available as a plastic
toy with "Dino Damage (tm)" doesn't mean it isn't well known and widely in
use in scientific circles.

> It's not like trying to change 'thundering dino', the second best
> known and
> loved dino name ever, to 'leftovers'.

Actually, there is a slight difference here.  The probably synonymy of the
two taxa in question was pointed out back in 1903.  It was the incredible
influence of H.F. Osborn, more than anything else, that helped preserve
"Brontosaurus" for so long.  By maintaining that name in the technical and
popular literature generated by the AMNH, it ensured that it was familiar to
those writing the secondary literature (kids books, encyclopedias, etc.),
and from that source material sprang additional works (movies, radio, TV
shows, etc.).  Had Osborn not have been as strong a supporter of the name
"Brontosaurus", I doubt it would be any better known than (for examples)
Morosaurus or Apatosaurus.

                Thomas R. Holtz, Jr.
                Vertebrate Paleontologist
Department of Geology           Director, Earth, Life & Time Program
University of Maryland          College Park Scholars
                College Park, MD  20742
Phone:  301-405-4084    Email:  tholtz@geol.umd.edu
Fax (Geol):  301-314-9661       Fax (CPS-ELT): 301-405-0796