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Re: Publication and the Code

Dan Chure <danchure@easilink.com> wrote:

> http://dinosauriainternational.com/downloads/Amphicoelias.pdf
> This paper might be of concern because this is a privately
> published  monograph, published by a commercial entity
> digging and selling fossils, creates a new taxon that
> synonymizes a number of long recognized distinct sauropod
> genera into it, and the "new" species' skeletons may be up
> for sale in the future.  

It also declares _Apatosaurus ajax_ a nomen dubium.  I suspected somebody would 
do this one day; but I thought it would appear in a reputable scientific work.

As Mike Taylor says, the "Amphicoelias brontodiplodocus" specimen is gorgeous.  
But the monograph (or is it a brochure?) is of poor quality scientifically.  It 
reminds me of the "Dinosaur Museum Journal" from several years ago.

> The issue of self publication
> of new taxa is occurring with some regularity in the
> dinosaurian arena of paleontology, but could impact any
> aspect of VP.  Some think the ICZN is quite out of date
> on the self publication issue and have handed down some
> faulty decisions about it in disciplines other than
> VP.  Others think that this is okay and will just sort
> itself out. I am not of the latter opinion. 

Nor am I.  When it comes to self-publication, the ICZN is asleep at the wheel.  
This is unfortunate, because self-publication offers a 'backdoor' route to the 
naming of new genera and species that is ripe for abuse, and the ICZN seems 
content to wave them through.

If it came to a case before the ICZN, then there is no reason why ICZN would 
not accept "Amphicoelias brontodiplodocus" as a nomenclaturally valid name.  
After all, it ticks all the right boxes in the Code.  This is not an 
endorsement of the publication, BTW; it's just that the Code's rules regarding 
what constitutes valid publication (Article 8) are so vague and anemic that it 
is not difficult to fulfill the Code's criteria.  Self-publication is 
implicitly permitted as long as a token effort is made to provide a public and 
ns recommendations regarding the desirability of publication in 'appropriate 
scientific journals', and that it be deposited in a library.  But because these 
are mere recommendations, they might as well be written in invisible ink.

> Nevertheless, I thought that it would be useful for members
> of these list to be aware of this publication and its
> implications.

The implications are ominous.  Considering the ease with which a glossy, 
professional-looking publication can be put together, this sort of 
self-publication could be the tip of the iceberg.  

I know the 'paleontological community' is not monolithic (including those who 
work in the dinosaurian arena).  But given the permissive attitude of the ICZN, 
the safest course of action would be to simply ignore this name (i.e., treat it 
as a nomen nudum).  Recognizing "Amphicoelias brontodiplodocus" as valid is 
only going to encourage the naming of new dinosaurs in self-published, 
poor-quality publications.