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Re: New papers in Geobios (and nomenclatoral gripe)

Christopher Taylor (gerarus@westnet.com.au) wrote:

<Unfortunately, this paper follows the not-uncommon, but invalid, practice of
thinking that a _nomen dubium_ doesn't compete nomenclatorially - it does. If
the type material for _Mochlodon_ falls within what is currently called
_Zalmoxes_, the genus should be called _Mochlodon_, not _Zalmoxes_ - even if we
can't put the type material in a reliable position as regards species. The
authors seem to feel that _Mochlodon_ is unusable because the specific specimen
designated as lectotype doesn't exhibit characters distinguishing it from
_Rhabdodon_ rather than _Zalmoxes_, but the hypodigm as a whole (which they
think is probably from a single individual) does show distinguishing characters
at the generic level.>

  The authors don't seem to actually make this particular argument, for the
nature of nomenclature competition. Weishampel is notable for his arguments of
nomina dubia, from his editorialship on both _The Dinosauria_ editions and
elsewhere, and tends to find that taxa with types that lack diagnostic
characters are not viable in nomenclature. To him, these taxa are worthless.
The authors DO state that the species, *suessi*, is not diagnostic, and thus so
is its monotypic genus, and that the species falls into the nearest diagnostic
receptacle available for it, *Zalmoxes*, whose type IS diagnostic. They cannot
support the validity of *M. suessi* for referral, so simply place the entire
Muthmannsdorf rhabdodont material into *Z.* as *Z.* sp. The authors also would
appear to argue that a species and a genus are NOT differentially diagnostic,
i.e., that there isn't a way to diagnose a genus and a species separately
without a second species to use the mutually shared species characters as
generic characters. This makes monotypic taxa problematic when the type is
poorly diagnostic. Thus, Sachs and Hornug sink *Mochlodon suessi* in *Zalmoxes*
as *Z.* sp.


Jaime A. Headden

"Innocent, unbiased observation is a myth." --- P.B. Medawar (1969)

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