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Re: The pterosaur in the egg: a new report



Christopher Taylor (ck.taylor@auckland.ac.nz) wrote:

<Looking at the article as it appears on Dave Peters' website, I've got a
horrible feeling that his name is, in fact, valid, and not a nomen nudum.
While the article doesn't include an adequate description itself, it does
include an explicit, unambiguous reference to a specimen that was
described elsewhere (I've just re-glanced at the original 'Nature' paper -
the description is sparse, and it's hidden amongst the text, but it is
there).

As for the validity of the publication forum, I think that this isn't a
factor - the magazine *is* widely available, certainly more so than many a
monograph, though whether it would stay so over many years I'm not so sure
of (I'm afraid I'm not familiar with the magazine in question). The only
factor that might affect things is if the magazine carries a disclaimer
saying that it is not valid for nomenclatorial purposes - otherwise we
have to accept it.

This name has so much wrong with it, it makes one cringe. The impropriety
of naming a specimen not seen, and probably being studied by others as we
speak; the inappropriateness of the publication forum; even the coining of
the name is hidden in a figure caption rather than being clearly separated
in the text. But I'm afraid that all these factors, while they may violate
a number of the recommendations of the ICZN, and certainly its intention,
probably *don't* violate any actual rules. So welcome, Avgodectes
pseudembryon Peters 2004, welcome to the fold.>

  After spending the last few days going over the current Code and in
conversation with Mike Fredericks, owner and publisher of _Prehistoric
Times_, I must concur. Dave Peters has satisfied the rules of the ICZN,
bending many, but not breaking them, in order to describe, vaguely
diagnose, identify a type, and name a new species, along with reference to
other descriptions. While I do not have a citation nor have I seen the
article itself, rather only Dave's copy on his website, I am fairly
certain that as this issue was published in August already, it has been a
valid name for about a week or so.

  I had THREE major issues with the publication:

  1. the diagnosis should have been more clearly differential, rather than
just vague in its allocation of anatomical features. Most of these
features were essential what led Wang and Zhou to describe it as an embryo
in the first place.

  2. the magazine is a lay-person's "fanzine," and statements of interest
in the magazine and on the website itself indicate this more firmly.
However, as Mike Fredericks has informed me, he is pleased that someone
named a taxon in the magazine. It does enjoy world-wide distribution, and
is easily available by copy or purchase, and does not identify itself as
"not for the purpose of creating a permanent scientific record."

  3. Dave used his identification of "ephemeral" (his word) neonates to
purport the existence of the fossil as an adult, thus its features would
be apomorphic if it were. Thus, it is impossible to fault him on this
coining when he follows the letter, even if no one else truly agrees with
his identifications.

  The Code has no problem with it, and while I dislike the format, much as
in *Megapnosaurus,* the community is ethically joined to consider this
name valid for the purposes of nomenclature.

=====
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.

"Innocent, unbiased observation is a myth." --- P.B. Medawar (1969)


        
                
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