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Re: Enigmosauria

Jaime A. Headden wrote-

>   As I don't use those names, I find no hypocrisy in myself for ignoring
> them. Padian et al. recommended a moratorium, but this has not been
> followed by a good number of people.

You used Caudipteridae here- http://dml.cmnh.org/2002May/msg00026.html
In any case, if you chose to ignore Enigmosauria based on the moratorium,
with the above exceptions being mistakes, I wouldn't fault you.  But you
said yourself there is more reason than that...

>   First off, the ICZN does not regulate nomina nuda, and never has. It
> only provides a definition for them, and the qualifications for taxa to be
> established under its provenance and to be recognized otherwise. Secondly,
> as noted before, a name without definition or application or even a
> diagnosis or useage, has little, if any, meaning. The applied meaning of
> the name in question has been, as stated many times before, been by word
> of mouth. This argument was going on before Naish, Martill, and Hutt
> published their figure accidentally, and for the same effective reasons,
> which is why using Naish et al. to support it has not been very effective;
> note that aside from Mickey Mortimer and a few web-based phylogeny sites,
> no one uses it. It has NOT been published since Naish et al., and I don't
> think anyone WILL be without substantiating it. Thus, Mickey's arguments
> for allowing him to use the name, will he, nil he, have no realistic basis
> other than "it's a name, why can't I use it?"

Not the 'word of mouth' argument again!  Yes, for those people unable to
comprehend the concept of a clade being labeled in a cladogram,
Enigmosauria's meaning would remain completely ambiguous.
Luckily, the cladogram shows us two taxa are included (Therizinosauria,
Oviraptorosauria) and many others excluded (Eumaniraptora, Troodontidae,
Compsognathidae, Ornithomimosauria, Tyrannosauridae, etc.).  THIS is it's
usage.  It's not a very specific usage, but it's a usage nonetheless.
Anyone shown the cladogram, even who hasn't been online, would see it's a
group that includes therizinosauroids and oviraptorosaurs.
As I argued here http://dml.cmnh.org/2003Jun/msg00371.html , many other
clade names have equally ambiguous usage, yet are not rejected by you or
others.  Using my example on that page, Charadriiformes.  Is it stem-based?
Node-based?  A crown group?  A total group?  We don't know, it's not defined
anywhere.  All we have are lists of included taxa, much as the cladogram
shows two taxa are included in Enigmosauria.

>   On the other hand, names that aren't governed by any code shouldn't be
> used anyway, given that they have no regulation, and therefore their
> application is less than concrete, or even less than quicksand -- there's
> no firm place to stand when it comes to them, because no one set the
> rules. So I guess there is no reason to continue using Maniraptora,
> instead I will use "Manuraptora," or even better, "Maniraptores," simply
> because those two are better formed ... and one at least has been
> published. Since there is no regulation, I don't even need to use a
> published name, just make my own up as I go. No? That way lies chaos,
> Mickey, and this is why I treat the given name for the thread as though it
> were a nomen nudum, and by rules that affect other suprageneric names. If
> names lack regulation, why use them?

You could use whichever names you wanted, or make up your own.  Sereno
redefines clades all the time.  Paul made up his own subtly different
equivalents for Theropoda, Tetanurae, Maniraptora and Pygostylia, and
efffectively ignored those older names.  Some people use one definition for
Aves, others use another.  Some people ignore definitions, even when there
are no other ones available for the clade (e.g. Ornithomimidae has only been
defined by Sereno, both times in unconventional ways).  There is a rough
consensus based on which clades were defined first (however poorly), but
even this isn't followed universally.  Gauthier and Clarke use an
apomorphy-based definition of Avialae made in 2001 instead of the stem-based
one proposed by Gauthier himself almost two decades ago.  Virtually nobody
uses the original definition for Ornithurae (except Senter et al.).  At this
point, it's a matter of convincing others your ideas for a name are right.
If they follow you, congratulations, if they don't, it's your risk for using
taxonomy others don't and confusing people down the line.

>   Until I saw some formulative change in the PhyloCode, especially for
> treating species, I have been using the ICZN as the basis for
> "supra-familial" nomenclature, in regards to rules on priority, citation,
> etc. Otherwise, I can use any name in the literature and mess over a good
> deal of work, and use that very excuse to do so. I do not for the sake of
> the ethical considerations that I have stated -- excessively -- in the
> past.

That's fine.  Others use (a very accommodating version of the) Phylocode as
the basis, and thus prefer definitional priority over chronological
priority.  Others define names in ways that blatantly contradict Phylocode

>   The reason I bring up definitions in defense of my attempts to squash
> use of this word until effective publication occurs is because of the
> non-ICZN treatment of names, especially those above the rank of Family,
> are useless without a definition. What is the use of such a name, if you
> don't know where it goes? Does someone's putting a name at a point on a
> tree mean you can put it anywhere else you see fit? Usually it's placement
> corresponds to a reason, but without one given, how do you use the name?
> What does one use to anchor one's names to their trees? Prior to
> PhyloCode, EVERYHING in this flavor is up in the air. I know there is some
> issue over whether the figure corresponds to such a definition, but this
> is subjective, and no actual definition has been offered. Any one of
> several likely definitions will correspond to the same point on the tree,
> and its use, internal specifiers, and any external specifiers (none of
> which were given in the figure), are up in the air.

The same things can all be said about virtually any 'order' of birds.  Tell
me how Charadriiformes is different than Enigmosauria in ways related to its
lack of definition.  If anything, Charadriiformes is more useless, since
it's had multiple combinations of content over the years.  It's included
pigeons, sandgrouse, cranes, rails, herons, bustards, and all sorts of other
birds since Garrod named it in 1873.  Similarily, it's excludes alcids,
pranticoles, cursors and others.

>   Under the issues explained by Mickey, about PhyloCode not being
> "official" and the ICZN being "inapplicable," ALL supra-familial names are
> so unregulated, and ANY of their uses are questionable.

That's right.  It's all a cooperative, subjective, contradictory mishmash of
ideas and concepts at this point.

> Using that as an
> excuse to get away with playing around with the given name has little, if
> any, ethical validity to it. At which point can we get away with these
> issues? I don't know.

At the point of 1-1-200n if you're a Phylocoder, or.... perhaps eventually
if you're a Linnaeist.  If the name wasn't so useful, I wouldn't use it all
the time.  I don't write it just to spite people, the clade is discussed so
often it needs a name.  But now we have this debacle created by Naish et al.
second guessing themselves and mistakenly leaving it in, which has made the
whole field uneasy about naming it.  And it's ridiculous.  Look at how many
names Sereno publishes that work in FAR less topologies than Enigmosauria
would (assuming a rational definition like : Oviraptor philoceratops,
Enigmosaurus mongoliensis <- Tyrannosaurus rex, Ornithomimus velox, Troodon
formosus, Deinonychus antirrhopus, Vultur gryphon).  Someone just needs the
guts to get it over with.

Mickey Mortimer
Undergraduate, Earth and Space Sciences
University of Washington
The Theropod Database - http://students.washington.edu/eoraptor/Home.html