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RE: Stegosaur volume of Swiss Journal of Geosciences



Tim Williams wrote-

> In my fantasy view of the world, the ICZN can keep control of genera and 
> species.  But its meddling in families and other family-level 'ranks' 
> (tribe, subfamily, superfamily, etc) is just a nuisance.  Let's hand over 
> these clades to PhyloCode, and bid the ICZN adieu.Ah, but I was arguing over 
> what is the proper course to take in the real world, where the ICZN dictates 
> nomenclature and the Phylocode isn't out yet.  

> > > 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.

Well the postorbital horns were quite distinctive for the time, and even now 
they're almost good enough to be diagnostic for Ceratopsidae.  It's only 
through historical accident that Ceratopsidae became a node-stem triplet clade 
that doesn't encompass things like Zuniceratops.  

> > 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.

I'd rather have rule-based taxonomy than judgement calls and "experience" any 
day.  Didn't we have enough subjective, authority-based taxonomy in the past?

Mickey Mortimer