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Re: Stegosaur volume of Swiss Journal of Geosciences

T. Michael Keesey <keesey@gmail.com> wrote:

> > To that end, if it comes to pass that we have
> > Centrosauridae instead of Ceratopsidae, and Struthiomimidae
> > instead of Ornithomimidae, and Masiakasauridae instead of
> > Noasauridae, and Sinraptoridae instead of
> > Metriacanthosauridae, then so be it.  IMHO, stability is
> > more important than priority.
> This approach is patently UNstable, because it's always
> possible to find something "better-known" than what came before.

True.  But in the case of _Ceratops_, this was inevitable.  _Ceratops_ is a 
lousy genus to anchor a clade in, irrespective of whether it's a nomen dubium 
or not.  _Ceratops montanus_ may be a nomen dubium; or we may be able to glean 
enough characters to diagnose a valid taxon.  Either way, _Ceratops_ is a crap 
genus to name a whole family after.

> Consider Masiakasaurus: sure, it's better-known than Noasaurus, but
> there are many major elements missing. 

Of course, these are all judgement calls.  The issue boils down to this: Do you 
think a given genus is sufficiently well-known to be the name-giver for a 
clade?  This is when experience comes into play.  Experience should be the 
principal arbiter of naming clades - instead of citing ICZN rules about 
this-or-that family having priority because a 19th century paleontologist 
erected the family 150 years ago.