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Ceratops (was RE: Pterosaur diversity (was: Re: Waimanu))

Mickey Mortimer wrote:

Zuniceratops and Ryan's (still undescribed?) basal centrosaurine show this isn't so. Large brow horns are plesiomorphic for ceratopsomorphs.

So the size of the horn cores is useless for diagnosing Chasmosaurinae/Ceratopsinae. Thus _Ceratops_ cannot be demonstrated to be a "ceratopsine", and it cannot be demonstrated not to be a centrosaurine, or a non-ceratopsid ceratopsoid for that matter. This contradicts Sereno (2005), who says...

"Although the nominotypical genus and species, _Ceratops montanus_, is generally regarded as a nomen dubium (e.g. Dodson et al. 2004), it is based on two sizable horn cores and an occipital condyle from near the top of the Cretaceous section in Montana (USNM 2411, Marsh 1888, Hatcher et al. 1907:figs. 103-104). The horn cores, although probably not from a fully grown individual, are large enough to place securely within Ceratopsinae (Chasmosaurinae) rather than Centrosaurinae."

According to PhyloCode (Recommendation 11.8B): ?If it questionable whether the type specimen of a preexisting name belongs to a clade to be named (e.g., because of the fragmentary nature of the specimen), then that preexisting name (or its type) should not be used as a specifier? and the corresponding name should not be converted to a clade name.?

Sereno does not use _Ceratops_ as a specifier, but _Ceratops_ is the eponymous genus for Ceratopsoidea, Ceratopsidae, and Ceratopsinae. It might be best to abandon these names, and replace Ceratopsidae with Centrosauridae. Sereno suggested replacing Chasmosaurinae with Ceratopsinae back in 1998, but the idea didn't exactly take off (as Sereno [2005] admits), so Ceratopsinae can just be brushed under the carpet, IMHO.

Salgado (2003) also cites PhyloCode Recommendation 11.8B to support upholding the use of the name Titanosauridae, because _Titanosaurus indicus_ (usually regarded as a nomen dubium) is clearly a member of the clade Titanosauridae, which is diagnosed by procoelous middle caudals. However, there is no guarantee that this character might not turn up in a more basal titanosaurian taxon (or even a non-titanosaurian sauropod - some of which show procoelous proximal caudals).

My point (sorry I didn't get there sooner) is that it is bad policy to name family-level clades after nomina dubia (or even fragmentary taxa). _Ceratops_/Ceratopsinae/Ceratopsidae is a good test case.