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Re: Monotypic genera and the PhyloCode [was: Re: Lumping Spinosauridae Redux]



> Why not just have the "genus" name be _the_ name?

Because it is never really clear if it is monotypic or not.

For example, you might say _Baryonyx_ is monotypic, but others might consider
it to have two or even three species (_tenerensis_ and maybe _lapparenti_).
There are thousands of other examples (_Triceratops_? _Gorilla_?
_Pterodactylus_? _Tyrannosaurus_? etc.)


You can't objectively say that a genus is monotypic, so this cannot be a
straightforward method for conversion.

No, we may not know if *Tyrannosaurus* is monotypic, but we DO know *Tyrannosaurus rex* is monotypic and we DO know *Tarbosaurus bataar* is monotypic.


By implementing PhyloCode and only recognizing monophyletic taxa, we are trying to make things more precise, right? But if you name a species *rex* you will constantly have to clarify WHICH *rex* you are talking about (Tyrannosaurus? Othnielia? Melanocharacidium? Rhododendrum???). So just call it *Tyrannosaurus* and everyone will immediately know exactly what species you are referring to. It's MUCH more precise. And what about people who also associate Tyrannosaurus with *bataar* as well as *rex*? Well let's just call the Mongolian species *Tarbosaurus*. Even now, if you say *Tarbosaurus* to a dinosaur paleontologist, they know exactly what species you're referring to, even if they don't think it deserves its own genus. Works the same way with Baryonyx and Suchomimus.

In dinosaur paleontology (at least), generic names are usually far more familiar to people -- specialist, non-specialist and layperson alike -- than species names. If we are going to assign one-word names to species that already HAVE well-established one-word names... why not carry them over?

Which list do you process quicker?

Tyrannosaurus                 rex
Tarbosaurus                    bataar
Baryonyx                        walkeri
Suchomimus        -OR-     tenerensis
Dryosaurus                     altus
Dysalotosaurus                lettowvorbecki
Brachiosaurus                  altithorax
Giraffatitan                      brancai


If you need to have concrete guidelines for when to use generic names, they could go something like this...
1) For species in genera that are always considered monotypic (Afrovenator, Nothronychus), we have the opportunity to retain the more familiar generic tag for the species, so do it.
2) For species in genera that are sometimes considered junior synonyms, but are still well-known to the community (Tarbosaurus, Suchomimus), use the generic names. Everyone will know what you are talking about anyway, and this will also free up the name of the senior synonym (Tyrannosaurus, Baryonyx) to be used for its type species.
3) For species in genera that are never monotypic (Psittacosaurus, Diplodocus), the genus name will be retained as the name of a clade, so you have to use the specific epithet anyway.


Basically, PhyloCode is supposed to be for OUR benefit, right? I'm not on some K*nm*n-esque populist rant here... but why make things harder on ourselves? Why give a species a name like *rex*, shared with a trillion and a half other species, when you have the opportunity to use a brilliant, instantly recognizable name like Tyrannosaurus?

Mike D

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