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RE: Precision, Ultra-, Super-, Seismo- and the like

Tim Williams writes:
> _Ultrasaurus_ and _Supersaurus_ were both named in the same paper -
> but as you know, the name _Ultrasaurus_ was preoccupied by a Korean
> sauropod (Kim, 1983 - although this wasn't Kim's intention).

I have heard it said (though irritatingly I can't remember where, and
I'm pretty sure it wasn't something citeable) that Kim knew about
Jensen's name _Ultrasaurus_, which he'd been using as an informal name
for many years, and named his own beast accordingly because he thought
that what he had was a second species of the same genus.  Can anyone
confirm or deny that?

>>> In that case, is the Brachiosaurus material just B. altithorax, or
>>> another species, or is that impossible to say?
>> It's impossible to say, since no scapula of _B. altithorax_ has ever been 
>> described -- the type specimen preserves a coracoid, but that's not hugely 
>> diagnostic alone.  Curtice et al. just referred it to _Brachiosaurus_ sp.
> To take this a step further, given the lack of overlapping material
> between several of the specimens, it is not known if all the
> Morrison brachiosaur material belongs to _B. altithorax_ (e.g., the
> skull USNM 5730).

I'm not getting into that again :-)

Apart from this skull, though, and the Potter Creek dorsal that Jensen
"described" in 1987, is there _any_ other putative _Brachiosaurus
altithorax_ material that's been published?

> _Brachiosaurus_ is a much rarer beast than other 'famous' Morrison
> sauropods, like _Apatosaurus_/_Brontosaurus_, _Diplodocus_,
> _Camarasaurus_ and even _Barosaurus_.

... but not as rare as its very sparse publication record would have
you believe.  There's a fair amount of material that's not yet been
published, and in some cases maybe never will be.

> Curtice proposed that _Supersaurus_ may be the same as _Barosaurus_;
> but this only appeared in an abstract, and the synonymy (and a new
> combination _B. vivianae_) is not official AFAIK.  Though I could be
> wrong on that.

I assume you're referring here to the elusive:

        Curtice, Brian D.  2003.  Two genera down, one to go?  The
        potential synonomy[sic] of _Supersaurus_ with _Barosaurus_.
        Southwest Paleontological Symposium 2003, Guide to
        Presentations, Mesa Southwest Museum, January 25 2003,

If so, then, despite the title of the abstract, what it actually says
is rather different, and suggests the _Supersaurus_ truly is distinct.

        ... The question of is _Supersaurus_ truly a distinct
        genus from _Barosaurus_ is now testable.  The former
        _Dystylosaurus_ dorsal vertebra provides an
        autapomorphy for _Supersaurus_, that being a strongly
        reduced bifid neural spine on dorsal four.  This loss
        of bifidity is important for in all other diplodocids
        the neural spine is still deeply bifurcated on dorsal
        four.  Only _Barosaurus_ has a reduction in cleft
        depth that far forward in the dorsal column.
        Supersaurus has all but lost the cleft, more closely
        resembling the sixth dorsal vertebra of Barosaurus
        than the fourth.

It certainly doesn't suggest the combination _B. vivianae_.

In any case, ICZN Article 12.4.2, row G, seats 11-14, says that any
abstract containing the phrase "the question of is" must be considered
nomenclaturally invalid.

 _/|_    ___________________________________________________________________
/o ) \/  Mike Taylor    <mike@indexdata.com>    http://www.miketaylor.org.uk
)_v__/\  "I have no idea what a `strong' or a `weak' verb is, and I truly
         hope I never find out what a `turbo verb' is, but I usually have
         a pretty good idea what the *right* verb is" -- Jane MacDonald.