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Re: Horns and Beaks: New taxa and descriptions

Denver Fowler wrote:

My point was that too many postings on this list end up as spats about taxonomic minutae. I am aware of the irony.

Such minutiae include the fact the original type specimen for _Iguanodon_ (the first named dinosaur, no less) was indeterminate, and therefore required an ICZN decision.

No it isn't irrelevant. Names should be clear in origin, and convey at least some sort of relevant meaning. Since they are intended to last forever, they should also have some sort of eloquence.

I agree that names should be clear in origin, and convey at least some sort of relevant
meaning. But too often they don't. The ICZN quite simply doesn't care. I do wish stupid names could be changed (I take your point regarding _Vectisaurus_); but when it comes to stupid names, the ICZN is whistling Dixie.

For example, the names _Protarchaeopteryx_, _Arrhinoceratops_, _Pararhabdodon_, _Sarcolestes_, and (probably) _Protoavis_ all have meanings that are incorrect. But we're stuck with these names nonetheless.

Vectisaurus atherfieldensis would be a confusing mistake,

Firstly, the combination _Vectisaurus atherfieldensis_ would probably not happen, because _V. valdensis_ has priority over _I. atherfieldensis_. Most paleontologists have chosen to keep _I. atherfieldensis_ anyway in preference to _V. valdensis_, even when they consider the two to be synonymous. But this situation can't endure. The combination _Vectisaurus atherfieldensis_ would require an ICZN ruling, with _atherfieldensis_ overriding the earlier-named _valdensis_ by fiat.

Secondly, the priority of the name _Vectisaurus_ will hinge upon the historical nomenclature and the nature of the type material - not on any aesthetic judgement, nor on the etymology of the name(s).

This is all certainly 'taxonomic minutiae', for sure. But getting it resolved would be preferable to having several different names for the same animal circulating in the literature.



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