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Re: Megapnosaurus and the ethics of zoological nomenclature

George Olshevsky wrote:

>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.

I know for a fact that George also followed this procedure in the _Rahona_
--> _Rahonavis_ change.  Back in 1998, I discovered that the name _Rahona_
was preoccupied by a genus of insect, and informed George (whom I felt sure
would know what to do).  George immediately informed Cathy Forster (an easy
matter, since she was here in the U.S., not living on another continent),
who set about coming up with a replacement name.

>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 remember Cathy's email, which said that she thought that by giving the new
bird genus a Malagasy name, the problem of homonymy wouldn't arise.  Guess
not.  Can't be too careful these days.  Though Ray, you'll be pleased to
know that "Bigsquishythingyonthebottomofmyshoeus" is not preoccupied.  ;-)



Timothy J. Williams

USDA/ARS Researcher
Agronomy Hall
Iowa State University
Ames IA 50014

Phone: 515 294 9233
Fax:   515 294 3163