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Re: 'Anhanguera' and the 'Anhangueridae'



'Anhanguera' and the 'Anhangueridae'

In response to my recent posting Herbert Bruno Campos sent the following: 

'I discussed with Alex Kellner this subject a time ago and he affirmed me that 
the names Anhanguera and Anhangueridae are valid. And that Anhanguera piscator 
is 
a valid species...'

Palaeontology certainly would be a lot quicker and easier if we could proceed 
through such edicts and we could all devote the time saved to watching reruns 
of 
England beating Australia at rugby and, eventually, at cricket. Unfortunately, 
our colleagues expect (rightly) that any claims we make, taxonomic or 
otherwise, 
should be backed up by data/evidence thus enabling our ideas to be 
independently 
assessed and corroborated, or rejected. In the case of the 'Anhangueridae' the 
validity of this taxon has been challenged primarily because both the content 
and 
the diagnosis of the 'Anhangueridae' is largely identical to that of the 
'Ornithocheiridae' (see Unwin 2001, p. 205). Since the Ornithocheiridae was 
proposed more than 100 years before the 'Anhangueridae' the former name clearly 
has priority. It has been argued that these names represent rather different 
concepts because Ornithocheirus is quite different form typical 'anhanguerids' 
such as Anhanguera and Coloborhynchus (see e.g. Kellner and Tomida 2000; 
Kellner 
2003). As I mentioned in my previous mail this idea is based on a serious 
error, 
happily now exposed (see Unwin 2001, p. 194) although unfortunately this error 
continues to appear in some works (e.g. Kellner 2003). 

Supposing that one was obsessed with the idea of saving the name 
'Anhangueridae', 
then one could argue that Ornithocheirus (the type genus of Ornithocheiridae) 
is 
sufficiently different from Anhanguera/Brasileodactylus/Coloborhynchus to 
warrant 
the placement of these taxa in separate subfamilies - Ornithocheirinae and 
Anhanguerinae, for example. But, before you all start thrashing away at your 
keyboards, pointing out the problems with this, let me say 'Yes, I know', there 
are several reasons why its a non-starter, not least because the name 
'Anhanguera' is also of doubtful validity. The point I want to make, however, 
is 
that we should not accept that the 'Anhangueridae' or 'Anhanguera' is valid 
purely on the basis of an edict from Rio (any more than that Ornithocheiridae 
is 
valid, on the basis of an edict from Berlin). Critically, the validity of 
'Anhanguera' and the 'Anhangueridae' has been called into doubt and this can 
only 
be resolved by an open-minded and detailed investigation of the problem. 

Cheers,

Dave

PS. OK, when it comes to cricket I accept that it may be a very long 
'eventually'.