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RE: Stegosaur volume of Swiss Journal of Geosciences

Michael Mortimer <mickey_mortimer111@msn.com> wrote:

> It's not much effort at all to code a fragmentary taxon in
> an analysis.  Only six characters can be coded for Ceratops
> in the Albertaceratops analysis, for instance.  Or two for
> Makovicky and Norell (2006).  Again I'm astounded that you
> wouldn't even bother going through such minimal steps to
> test the hypothesis before throwing an established taxon
> out.

I'm not saying that we should throw _Ceratops_ away.  I'm only saying that it's 
not a worthwhile venture to use _Ceratops_ as a name-giving taxon.  I don't 
know if _Ceratops_ is a nomen dubium or not.  It might actually be a valid 
taxon.  Either way, _Ceratops_ is a piece of crap.  (Sorry to get too technical 
here.)  As such, _Ceratops_ is a poor choice to name a family after AND (as 
such) require that it be included in the clade's definition.

> The point is that you don't have an objective taxonomic system.  You say
> Sinraptoridae is better, but I could say "Yangchuanosauridae" is 
> better, and there's no way to tell which of us is right
> since you threw out the rule book.  That's the problem once you start
> ignoring the rules- everyone else can do it too, and you may not like
> their subjective, authority-based decisions.

Well, we routinely ignore the rule book anyway.  That's why we have 
Tyrannosauridae and not Deinodontidae (but more on that later...)

As for the rules, my hope is that PhyloCode will come up with family-level 
clades that are named after good genera.  It doesn't have to be the *best* 
genus.  _Sinraptor_ is much better than _Metriacanthosaurus_, so let's go with 
Sinraptoridae.  _Tyrannosaurus_ is infinitely better than _Deinodon_, so let's 
stick with Tyrannosauridae (and Tyrannosauridae, Tyrannosauroidea, etc).  I 
would say we ditch Ceratopsidae, because (despite your heroic efforts) 
_Ceratops_ is an exceedingly poor specifier.

> As for Dryptosauroidea (Deinodontoidea has even more priority, btw), 
> Podokesauridae/oidea and all the other examples that are ignored 
r switch
> names or petition the ICZN instead of letting these technically
> correct names float around unused.  

Y'know, I would use the Deinodontoidea example as a *reductio ad absurdum* to 
show why blindly applying ICZN rules is so counterproductive.  There is just no 
way that Deinodontidae should be used in place of Tyrannosauridae, or that 
Deinodontoidea should be used in place of Tyrannosauroidea.  And I just can't 
see either happening in the 'real' world. 

> I could easily see the advantages to using Coelophysidae, Sinraptoridae, 
> Tyrannosauridae, etc., but I want them to go through the formal 
> process.  Regardless, at least in the current system under the ICZN 
> these are exceptions and aren't supposed to happen.  

This tells me that something is rotten with the ICZN - at least when applied to 
family-level taxa.    

> And sometimes they're corrected, like when Sereno tried to use 
> and define Oviraptoroidea, but it was pointed out Caenagnathoidea had 
> priority.  

Or we could assert that Oviraptoroidea is not a superfamily, which puts it 
outside the ICZN's jurisdiction.  I'm not saying that this is something that 
can be done, or should be done.  I'm merely demonstrating that the ICZN can 
often be skirted when deemed necessary, at least when it comes to coordinated 
family-level taxonomy.

> In your system, these kinds of priority-flouting cases could very well 
> be the norm and lead to anarchy and vanity taxonomy.

Well, let's just pick a name and run with it.  Let's decide once and for all 
that Tyrannosauridae, Coelophysidae, Sinraptoridae, etc are the best names.  If 
this goes against the grain of the ICZN, too bad.

> I agree it sometimes works out better, like for
> Cetiosaurus.  I just don't think Stegosaurus should be
> given a new type species.  

You're being subjective.  You can't escape a certain level of subjectivity 
within taxonomy.  I say we should embrace it for the common good - the 'common 
good' being taxonomic stability.

> You want eponymous clades to be based on
nd definitions to be based
> on complete and diagnostic species, 

Yes I do.  Though I'd settle for "diagnostic", because "complete" is a tall 

> but what you want
> doesn't correspond to the rules that are currently dictated
> by the body being petitioned.  We can argue all day over
> which system we should have, but based on which system we DO
> have, the choice for Stegosaurus armatus is clear.

The system is broken.  The system certainly sucks when it comes to coordinated 
family-level taxonomy.  There is no way that anyone should have to go 
cap-in-hand to the ICZN asking that Tyrannosauridae be allowed to have 
precedence over Deinodontidae.  Experts in the field have already made their 
choice, and I'm afraid Deinodontidae didn't make the cut.  Let's move on.