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RE: Caenagnathiformes (toothlessness)

Ken Kinman (kinman@hotmail.com) wrote:

<We as namers of these forms should name them as accurately as possible.
The same goes for Metabacteria (named in 1979), who were given the totally
inappropriate name "Archaea" in 1990 (and thus a junior synonym on top of
being a horrible misnomer). Anyway, we are stuck with Oviraptoridae as a 
family name (unless it is included within Caenagnathidae), but I see no 
reason to perpetuate an extremely doubtful "egg-stealing" misconception by
naming more inclusive clades on this misnomer.>

  We as a species, of course, are like Chronos in Piers Anthony's _Bearing
and Hourglass_ and remember the future, or omniscient and know everything
about these taxa to be able to, when they are found, to coin the best name
possible. The name *Galtonia* for a tooth-type from NA says absolutely
nothing about the taxon, but it is no less applicable as *Caenagnathus*
which was named to reflect similarities to paleognath neornithine birds.
He may have described it as one, but he wasn't. The name was meant to
reflect the similarity, not actual ID. Sorry that some names just don't
seem to be to some people's likings, but you have them ... there's no
picking and chosing unless you think you can pick any name you want.

  BTW, the authors of *Agnosphytis/Agnostiphys* have the right to, in a
future publication, according to the ICZN, chose which of these is the
"prefered" one. So I doubt the name is going to be up to readers. In cases
where the authors cannot choose which, the name is up to the first
published monicker.

<We have the opportunity to at least reverse part of this unfortunate 

  Based on Ken's perception, maybe. *Oviraptor* was named not just for its
association, but for two morphological features which lead Osborn to
assume it's mode of life. It was hardly inappropriate at the time. That
the theory went unchallenged for decades suggested that no one had a
problem with it. Now there's Ken and a few others who think that past
names must reflect our _present_ knowledge. Well, duh, mistakes happen.
Deal with these, unless you wish to discard rules of priority for "what
feels right [to you]."

<Many generations of biologists may be using these names, and we owe it to
them to have some foresight and be accurate as possible.>

  Agreed. With the data at hand. May as well not name names because it
might turn out to be a bad descriptive monicker.

<In making nomenclatural decisions, I am always looking from several years
to several decades now the line for the longer term ramifications,>

  Well, sometimes a person can look so far ahead that oen fails to see the
past, and loses sight of the present.

<trying to avoid situations like "ornithischians" being convergent with
Class Aves which possess the true bird ischia.>

  This is such a bad example. The pelvis, for one thing, _is_ convergent,
there's nothing anyone could do about that, that's what happened in
evolution; both groups have an opisthopubic pelvis. Ornithischians have
never possessed bird ischia... I have no idea where anyone has ever
confused this issue to begin with. The name was given only to reflect the
opisthopuby; later, someone, very briefly, tried to suggest birds derived
from them ... hence, Ornithopoda, as a testament to the obviously unavian
Sauropoda. Advanced theropoda metatarsi were ignored when known
(*Ornithomimus*) in this case. But, that's history for you, some times
it's screwy. Life goes on. We learn ... but taxonomy is not retroactive.
You do not get to rename taxa because you don't like the name. That's why
*Megapnosaurus* stays. That's why Ornithopoda stays. It's a tough, raw
deal, for some anyway ... but that's evolution and it's throwing curve balls.

Jaime A. Headden

  Little steps are often the hardest to take.  We are too used to making leaps 
in the face of adversity, that a simple skip is so hard to do.  We should all 
learn to walk soft, walk small, see the world around us rather than zoom by it.

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