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Re: Torvosaurus (or Megalosaurus) in Europe?



Jaime Headden wrote-

> A nomen nudum by itself is just a
> name; provide any constructive use of a name that means nothing, and sure
> we can talk. When attached to something else, like a specimen, it's a
> label.

And most of the time, there is no reason to use nomina nuda like
"Luanpingosaurus", if they aren't associated with other data.  It's a Late
Jurassic dinosaur from the Huajiyang Formation, absolutely nothing else is
known, so it won't figure prominently in many discussions.  This doesn't
mean we shouldn't use the names, just that we won't have much reason to.
Once we actually have a specimen to attach it to, why not use nomina nuda as
labels?  The only difference between calling a specimen "Brontoraptor" and
"TATE 0012" is that the former might eventually be the proper name for the
specimen, assuming it is a new taxon.  This raises the issues of-
1. Someone else choosing to name their own taxon "Brontoraptor" or including
"Brontoraptor" and the material in a description that would count as
official by the ICZN.
2. Courtesy to the authors (as explained by Tom Holtz).
These are the only issues with actual usage of a nomen nudum that have been
raised.  In the current case, the authors are responsible for their actions
of putting the name online if #1 happens and they obviously intended for
others to see the name, so #2 doesn't apply.  I shouldn't really have to
defend this, as I'm not the person who first decided to use nomina nuda on
the DML.  It's been a widespread practice that hasn't been condemned until
now.  It's simply an issue of individual feelings, with some (Tracy, George)
feeling their use is okay, while others (Jaime, Tom) feel that it's not.

> <2. "Anabisetia">
>   This was the author's fault. If they wanted the name out, fine. But
> technically the name is still not available for science.

Not officially published, but certainly available for discussion.

> <3. "Alashansaurus">
>   I need to repeat Chure's admonishment? Please do not use this name.

This is an intereresting case because it is based on a thesis, which though
not officially published, is publically available.  On the one hand, not
using it is like denying the existance of the sun.  We all know it's there,
but we must remain hush hush about it.  And that seems ridiculous to me,
which is why I contnue to use nomina nuda.  On the other hand, in this
particular case Chure has said that he would prefer to have it referred to
as a new genus, but not use the name itself.  It's tricky, but I suppose I
will apologize to Chure in this case and not use the name until it is
published.

>   A name without a description is meaningless. It cannot be applied to
> anything without a write-up on this, and then the name can only be applied
> when _published_ (and my application of the rules of the ICZN).

Why must you continue to insist names without descriptions are meaningless?
What sort of meaning does any name have?  They're all just labels for
specimens or collections of specimens.  Whether they have a list of
diagnostic characters, we know which specimen they are based on and/or the
material is illustrated makes no difference.  Yes, the ICZN doesn't
recognize them as official names, but they do still have meaning when
discussing them.

>   Saying the name was not published doesn't matter ... saying the name at
> all is the problem. Why not simply use the specimen numbers? Does a
> binomen or "genus" have to be applied to any specimen that need be used?

No, but why not?  Names are easier to use than numbers, which is why we
don't call our taxa combinations of acronyms and numbers.  "Brontoraptor"
was put on the internet by its authors.  THERE CAN BE NO REASON NOT TO USE
IT.  When authors purposely use nomina nuda in their publications with
knowledge the taxon isn't described yet, they obviously DON'T CARE if people
know what they are.  Chure's case is different because that is a thesis, but
with "Brontoraptor", "Anabisetia" and others, there is no problem with
saying the name.

> <Is this an actual rule, or just your personal code of ethics?>
>
>   Yes, it is an actual rule. ICZN's, to be exact.

Interesting.  Can you or anyone else point out where in the ICZN it says "a
name is available for use (except through private discourse and only among
people who already know the name or in which the discourse of the name is
approved) only when published by dictates of the ICZN"?

Mickey Mortimer