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RE: Pterosaur diversity (was: Re: Waimanu) - retraction&apology

Oops!  Or rather, Ops!

Abject apologies to all, particularly Jaime, for yesterday evening's blurt.
Instead of assuming I knew what I was talking about I should have checked my
Liddell and Scott (or even Google, probably).

Opsis (omicron psi iota sigma), stem opsi-, means vision, appearance, face,
sight etc., but this is not the source of the -ceratops names; that would be
Ops (omega psi), stem op-, means pretty much the same thing, derived from
the same horrendously irregular verb 'to see' but for some reason drops the

Hence Leptoceratopidae would be correct.

Haven't been embarrassed in quite the same way since I etymologised
helicopter as 'sun-cutter'. A little learning is a dangerous thing.

Before rushing out the door yesterday I wrote:

>   We should be thankful that Makovicky named the taxon Leptoceratopidae,
> the
> first Latin-grammatically-correct ceratopsian "family" clade name to date.

Hmm... well, as the name Leptoceratops is formed entirely from Greek roots
including 'ops' [face] (the stem of which is 'opsi'), Mackovicky has
actually been the first to get it WRONG. When borrowed into Latin, the Greek
word 'ops' would normally become 'opsis' (e.g. synopsis, borrowed by English
via Latin), so I don't know why anyone has ever assumed the stem in
ceratopsian names was '-op'. 

There was a similar kind of kerfuffle in snake nomenclature because of
uncertainty about the correct grammatical stem of 'ophis' (Gr., snake);
there were families named with '-ophidae' (Wrong!), '-ophiidae', and just
once, '-opheidae' because Robert Hoffstetter discovered that in Attic Greek
the stem was actually 'ophe' (as in genitive opheos). For a brief period it
looked like the opheids were going to sweep all before them, till someone
pointed out that in other classical dialects 'ophi' was correct (Cannatella,
D. C. 1990. Ancient Greek and ophidian orthography. Journal of Herpetology
24(3):322-323.)  An unresolved question is whether we should use
Lapparentopheidae as Hoffstetter named it, or change it for consistency with
the numerous -ophiidae names (seeing as how he was operating under an
incorrect assumption that they were all wrong).

Dr John D. Scanlon
Riversleigh Fossil Centre, Outback at Isa
19 Marian Street / PO Box 1094
Mount Isa  QLD  4825
Ph:   07 4749 1555
Fax: 07 4743 6296
Email: riversleigh@outbackatisa.com.au

> -----Original Message-----
> From: Jaime A. Headden [mailto:qilongia@yahoo.com]
> Sent: Thursday, June 01, 2006 12:40 AM
> To: dinosaur@usc.edu
> Cc: david.marjanovic@gmx.at
> Subject: Re: Pterosaur diversity (was: Re: Waimanu)
> David Marjanovic (david.marjanovic@gmx.at) wrote:
> <However, it is certainly not good for my results that I haven't been able
> to
> get either measurements for *Magnirostris* and *Udanoceratops* or a
> phylogeny
> of Leptoceratopsidae.>
>   We should be thankful that Makovicky named the taxon Leptoceratopidae,
> the
> first Latin-grammatically-correct ceratopsian "family" clade name to date.
>   Unless someone has already done so, I will try to list the results of
> the
> group (mostly Makovicky's effort) phylogenies published in the last couple
> of
> years.
>   Cheers,
> Jaime A. Headden
> http://bitestuff.blogspot.com/
> "Innocent, unbiased observation is a myth." --- P.B. Medawar (1969)
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