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Re: Publication and the Code

 On 10/6/2010 8:27 PM, Jocelyn Falconnet wrote:

"Ok, now a silly question: guess how much one will have to pay for DQ-BS now that it 
is an holotype?"

That is NOT a silly question. From a business perspective, what could be better than having the specimen you are selling the "holotype" of a new name? Certainly that commands a few more bucks than a specimen that belongs to an already known taxon. As a result, any reasonably complete specimen could be ginned up as a new genus or species, and that should not be surprising. The cash is a strong motivator in that situiation. There will be more of this. In one of the news stories about the Allosaurus coming up for auction, there was a statement that the speicmen had not yet been named, that right was being reserved and sold to the winning bidder.

So how to deal with this kind of "nomenclature"? To treat it as a nomen dubium, as some have suggested, is to give it more credence than it deserves because it gives the specimen and name the cache that it is a serious scientific taxonomic action. It is not. In my opinion, it should be treated in the same way that astronomers treat the business of naming a star after someone for $50 (including a certificated showing that the name has been registered in the International Star Registry). The name should be simply IGNORED. Do not discuss the name, list it as a synonym or nomen dubium, etc. Do NOT acknowledge its existence. If you must, refer to the specimen by its specimen number. Anything more than that will only cause greater problems for systematics and nomenclature. If systematics, taxonomy, and phylogenetic relationships are fundamental to many other kinds of evolutionary studies, then the creation of essentially bogus names (either for business, personal glory, or out of dementia) is corrosive and destructive. If the ICZN should rule otherwise the solution is to IGNORE THEM AS WELL. The Commission is made up of people and not gods. They can, and do, misinterpret their own rules. They only have power because of concensus. If the Code is hoplessly out of date I don't see that the scientific community is eternally obligated to walk down the path to madness because of a fundamentally flawed system unwilling to correct its problems.

Dan the Red

Additional pictures and details on the new *Amphicoelias* here:


And to put in my two cents, I'd say that, at worse, a neotype may be
designated if ever the holotype of *Amphicoelias brontodiplodocus*
happened to be unavailable for study. Most of the time, this is the
case because: 1) the type was lost and/or destroyed; 2) it is housed
in a private collection or an institution closed to scientists. This
is also probably why most scientific journals refuse new taxa based on
specimens from private collections.

The holotype, when mounted, would have a length of about 25 m after
reconstruction. The ontogenetic age of the holotype is currently under
"Preliminary observations suggest the individual was a young adult
when it died. However, the exact age of this individual is under
investigation at the Division of Paleontology, American Museum of
Natural History. This study will rely on taking a thin section of
sclerotic bone for dating; a first for sauropod paleobiology."

Ok, now a silly question: guess how much one will have to pay for
DQ-BS now that it is an holotype ?

And for those interested in the Paris fossil auction, the *Allosaurus*
skeleton was sold for 1.100.000 euros (~153.000 $) to an anonymous
private collector.


2010/10/7 Tim Williams<tijawi@yahoo.com>:
Snipped from my previous message:

I wrote:

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 permanent scientific record.

The ICZN Code contains 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.

In response, Brad McFeeters wrote:

No, I think "Amphicoelias brontodiplodocus" is obviously
invalid by ICZN standards, because Dinosauria International
hasn't made a print edition available for libraries (at
least, I see no mention of such in the .pdf or elsewhere on
their website).

Having a print edition deposited in libraries is not a requirement of the ICZN 
Code, merely a recommendation.

Nevertheless, Article 8.6. states:

"Works produced after 1999 by a method that does not employ printing on paper. For a 
work produced after 1999 by a method other than printing on paper to be accepted as 
published within the meaning of the Code, it must contain a statement that copies (in the 
form in which it is published) have been deposited in at least 5 major publicly 
accessible libraries which are identified by name in the work itself."

However, the "Amphicoelias brontodiplodocus" description is clearly intended to be published in printed form.  
The second page (page II) makes reference to "Front Cover", "Inside Front&  Back Covers", and 
"Back Cover".  So the PDF is clearly designed to be printed, and is not simply a website.  The authors could 
simply argue t
ng to the iczn.org FAQ, "A proposed
amendment to the Code outlined mechanisms to allow
publication of nomenclatural acts in electronic-only
journals (but not on websites or other transient electronic media)."
And Dinosauria International is clearly a website, not a

Firstly, at this stage this is only a *proposed* amendment.

Secondly, the ICZN Code never (never EVER) mandates that a new name has to 
appear in a scientific journal in order to be valid.  This is a recommendation, 
nothing more.

Lee Hall wrote:

Why be worried about this?  It's not in a legitimate journal, and
therefore it isn't a legitimate publication.  Thus, it has as much
merit as some scribbles on a fancy napkin.

See above.  There is nothing in the ICZN Code about a name having to appear in a 
"legitimate journal" in order for it to be valid.