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Tooth-Based Taxonomy



  By my account, over 140 different dinosaur species (fewer "genera," but by 
barely) are based solely on isolated tooth specimens. This list is nearing 150. 
If I were to expand my list to include all archosaurs, it would certainly 
increase, and even more so were I to include all diapsids. 

  I have raised the issue of tooth-based taxonomy (TBT) in the past on the 
list, to varying responses, and generally in response to new species being 
named or my favorite taxon to pick on, *Troodon formosus* (this is largely 
because it is such an old, and well-known and widely used taxon). I bring this 
up because I have just finished composing a sort of manifesto on my blog (not 
really advertising) for the purpose of creating debate and conversation about 
how different systematists view this topic. To me, this is very important 
because, from the looks of it, exploding taxa by splitting species out from 
tooth-based taxa would inflate species accounts and there are many of you who 
disagree with this practice. The practice has been used to coordinate 
stratigraphy, and when you leave diapsids and get to mammals and "fish," it has 
been used to do so much more that this broad topic has immensely broad 
implications.

  Some of you I've talked to in private, and I've attempted to discuss this 
topic there (oh, I would love to have a roundtable at the next SVP on this 
topic!), but now, I would like to be public about this issue. Discuss this here 
or at the blog (to which the direct link on the topic is 
http://qilong.wordpress.com/2010/05/05/tooth-based-taxonomy/) I don't 
particularly care, but I would like to see how many of you view TBT in the 
board and in the narrow.

Cheers,

  Jaime A. Headden
  The Bite Stuff (site v2)
  http://qilong.wordpress.com/

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


"Ever since man first left his cave and met a stranger with a
different language and a new way of looking at things, the human race
has had a dream: to kill him, so we don't have to learn his language or
his new way of looking at things." --- Zapp Brannigan (Beast With a Billion 
Backs)

                                          
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