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Re: ICZN exegesis was Re: New Shandong Dinosaur Discoveries

Jaime Headden wrote:

>   I have noted before, I think (and in conjunction with Tim
> Williams) that parts of the current Code are ambiguous on
> mandating alterations to nomenclature

The Code is ambiguous on a great many issues.  Many of the rules are not 
black-and-white, but shades of gray.  I think this might be a deliberate 
strategy on the ICZN's part.  Rather than having to adjudicate on every 
nomenclatural issue, the ICZN lets a "community rules" standard apply.  
Although it take some time (sometimes with a few bruises along the way), a 
consensus usually emerges with regards to most nomenclatural matters - correct 
spelling, validity of certain names, and so on.

For example, Ouyang's stegosaur genus _Gigantspinosaurus_ seems to have been 
accepted by workers in the field as a valid genus (in the nomenclatural sense) 
even though there is some uncertainty over whether the publication in which the 
name first appears actually meets ICZN criteria (especially 9.9).


There are other cases where suspect names have 'stuck' through consensus by 
workers in the field.  For example, the genus _Coloradisaurus_ (a replacement 
for the preoccupied _Coloradia_) was coined accidentally by Lambert in a 
popular science book, but seems to have accreted into a valid genus, with 
little fanfare along the way.


On the other hand, Pickering's various proposed theropod genus and species 
names ("Walkersaurus", "Tyrannosaurus stanwinstonorum", etc) have been 
universally treated as *invalid* (nomina nuda).  In these cases, it's clear 
that the method of publication isn't within a bull's roar of what the ICZN 
considers valid.  So the 'names' are studiously ignored.


Thus, Benson had a free hand to refer _Megalosaurus hesperis_ to a new genus 
(_Duriavenator_), despite the fact that a new genus ("Walkersaurus") had 
previously been proposed, but never gained acceptance.  Even George Olshevsky 
regards it as a nomen nudum...


The _Richardoestesia_/_Ricardoestesia_ issue seems to be resolving in favor of 
the former spelling, even though the latter was the *intended* spelling, and 
both spellings continue to circulate in the scientific literature.  It would 
take a ruling by the ICZN to determine the correct spelling once and for all, 
but so far this hasn't transpired.