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Re: Monotypic genera and the PhyloCode

Quoting "T. Michael Keesey" <mightyodinn@yahoo.com>:

> --- Nick Pharris <npharris@umich.edu> wrote:
> > And here we've gotten to the crux of the matter:  traditionally, we tend to
> > use the species as a kind of basic unit of evolutionary biology (though the
> > individual or the population would in many ways be better).
> Agreed.
> >  However, the basic unit of taxonomy is actually the genus:  it is the
> genus
> > name that must be unique, for instance.
> The species name is unique, when you consider that "species name" means BOTH
> parts of the binomial ("rex" is not a species; "Tyrannosaurus rex" and
> "Aliwalia rex" and "Othnielia rex" are.)

Yes, but I thought you were advocating the use of the species epithet alone, or
with some sort of author/date or something like that.  If you want to continue
using genus-species combinations, then there is no problem.

> This seems to me like a very vertebrate paleontology-skewed perspective. In
> many  other taxa, there are far more species per genus than in Mesozoic
> dinosaurs.

Hence the need for a more or less automatic conversion algorithm that
nonetheless preserves all the information contained in the binominal.

> > 1.)  Any species that has been named as the type species of a genus will
> take
> > on that generic name as its uninominal.
> This would create massive confusion with the preexisting literature -- can
> you imagine _Homo_ pertaining only to our species, not even including
> Neanderthals?

Uh, yes, I can.  In fact, that is exactly what the word referred to for
thousands of years before it was co-opted as a generic epithet.

> > 2.)  All other species will be converted by having the specific name
> > compounded with the generic name.
> There is a huge problem here in that generic names are not universally agreed
> upon. Is it _Homo garhi_, _Australopithecus garhi_, or _Paranthropus garhi_?

Well, I was wrestling with that problem.  Let's say we use whatever genus the
species was originally assigned to.

> > So, for what is now _Parasaurolophus_, we would have:
> >
> > _Parasaurolophus_ (=_P. walkeri_)
> > _Tubiciniparasaurolophus_ (=_P. tubicen_)
> > _Cyrtocristatiparasaurolophus_ (=_P. cyrtocristatus_)
> Shouldn't these be in lower case, being species names?

Every other rank is capitalized; why not species?

> > Sure, it makes for some long names, but they are one-word names that
> uniquely
> > identify species.
> It doesn't seem that it would always be obvious how to prepend a trivial
> epithet. _bataarotarbosaurus_ or _bataartarbosaurus_? (Assuming it's
> considered
> different from _Tarbosaurus efremovi_ ... err, _tarbosaurus_.)

Just pick a system.  For instance, -i- if the generic stem begins with a
consonant, nothing if it begins with a vowel.  The example you mention would
then be _Bataarityrannosaurus_.

> Also, what happens if the new name is the same as a preexisting one? (I can't
> think of an example off the top of my head, but they must be out there.)

I predict this would be rather rare, but if it happens, the older one retains
the name, and the newer gets a new name, just as it is now.

Nick Pharris
Ph.D. Candidate
Department of Linguistics
University of Michigan