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RE: Names, professional courtesy, and more
Perhaps we encourage the use of the informal specimen names people
already use: "Sue," "Big Al," or whatever. I understand the hominid
people do that. It allows very extensive discussion in the community
without scooping anyone's right to name and describe.
> -----Original Message-----
> From: firstname.lastname@example.org [mailto:email@example.com]
> On Behalf Of Thomas R. Holtz, Jr.
> Sent: Wednesday, March 13, 2002 7:48 AM
> To: dinosaur
> Cc: Mickey_Mortimer111@msn.com; firstname.lastname@example.org;
> Subject: Names, professional courtesy, and more
> In a hopes to diffuse some tensions here, and to add my $0.02, some
> * In general, I'm not too fond of the widespread use of
> nomina nuda and similar premature name announcements in
> non-technical, fringe technical, and heck, once in a while,
> technical literature. The latter case can be from
> mis-judging timing as anything else: for example, Chiappe
> using the name of his not-yet-released abelisaurid in
> "Walking on Eggs" or on an SVP slide
> before the paper is out. (And no: I don't know when the
> paper is coming
> out). An especially tricky spot for this is taxonomic lists
> for particular formations/localities; as these are sometimes
> done by committee, the primary person responsible for the
> compilation of the table is not always aware of the current
> taxonomic status of all names on the list.
> The first category, non-technical, includes popular articles
> and such: in these cases, the name might slip out because the
> authors already know what they want to call it, but haven't
> gotten around to writing the papers yet. Nevertheless, they
> are so used to calling the fossil by that name that it is
> second nature. A special case of this: museum exhibit
> guides, which can be notorious for prematurely announcing
> names, or even announcing names that are eventually replaced
> by others.
> The middle category, what I just dubbed "fringe technical",
> is the trickiest of all. This includes nearly all the
> compilations of "all dinosaur names ever named", whether in
> print or on the Internet. (For that matter, the Internet
> itself has greatly aided-and-abetted fringe technical
> literature). These publications are not Science as such, and
> many are done without serious peer review, but they (in
> principle) try to uphold the virtues of biological
> nomenclature. However, they ALSO try to hold to the virtues
> of "completeness", and therein lies the problem. I FULLY
> understand this virtue, and have made plenty of these types
> of lists in the past. However, they can cause problems
> Mickey has commented on the "widespread" use of
> ""Chaoyangosaurus" from 1983-1998, before it was described as
> Chaoyangsaurus". This use was NOT widespread, and was
> essentially absent in the technical literature. It WAS
> present in the Great Compilations of Names, but not in (say)
> _The Dinosauria_, even if some of the authors of the
> appropriate chapters knew very well that that taxon was
> coming out eventually.
> So, my general recommendation is that which was followed in
> The Dinosauria: unless the name is really, truly formally
> published and out there, be as courteous as possible to the
> authors and the rest of the community and DON'T use the
> informal name. Call the critters "Chilantaisaurus"
> maortuensis or "new Wyoming megalosaur" or whatever, until
> the formal name is there, even if you know what names are
> planned for it. The croc-workers have behaved much, much
> more professionally about this, referring to the "Kayenta
> croc" or the "Fruita croc" (for example) by informal names
> for *decades*, waiting for these formal names (which are
> known in the community in some cases) to be published.
> (Incidentally, are either of these two examples published
> yet? Must check...).
> So I would advocate the virtue of courtesy over the desire to
> show that you know a special name, and in problematic cases
> to favor courtesy.
> Just my opinion; use it as you will.
> * In Mickey's defense, the special case of "Brontoraptor":
> First off, I and others who've seen specimens or casts are
> not at all convinced yet it is distinct from _Edmarka_,
> _Torvosaurus_, or even from _T. tanneri_. Be that as it may,
> this name has already wormed its way into the literature in
> (among other cases) Jerry Harris' _Acrocanthosaurus_ paper
> (NMMNHS Bulletin 13). This suite of fossils is one of those
> that's hard to ignore: it adds a lot of info to our knowledge
> of Jurassic North American basal tetanurines. I REALLY hope
> Seigwarth et al. try and get the anatomical description
> published formally soon.
> 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: email@example.com
Fax (Geol): 301-314-9661 Fax (CPS-ELT): 301-405-0796