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RE: ICZN & PhyloCode (was RE Stegosaur volume of Swiss Journal of Geosciences

On Mon, 20/9/10, Anthony Docimo <keenir@hotmail.com> wrote:

(BTW, your messages aren't in plain text, so they're being truncated.)

> > Because _Deinodon_ is known only from teeth.
> how many diagnostic characters can you glean from teeth?

In the case of _Deinodon_, at the level of genus: None.  Hence _Deinodon 
horridus_ is a nomen dubium.

> as you just said, you need only one.



> being upset that the ICZN doesn't always make a perfect fit with
> dinosaurs, is like being upset that Roman numerals don't handle complex
> algebraic fractions well.
> (someone once told me Roman numerals had that problem)

Roman numerals are also tricky when it comes to basic functions such as 
addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division.  That's one reason why we 
don't use Roman numerals any more.  But Roman numerals are gangbusters for 
other things, such as copyrighting movies.  As pointed out by Edna Krabappel: 
"If you don't learn Roman numerals, you'll never know the years certain motion 
pictures were copyrighted."

I would use the same analogy for the ICZN: useful for some things (like naming 
genera and species), but a hindrance to others (like naming families, and 
coordinated taxa).

> and people have gotten used to Ceratopsidae.

People had also "gotten used to" Titanosauridae.  Now it's hardly ever used.  
Time-honored families are not set in stone.

> you want us to use Tyrannosaurus/Tyrannosauridae instead of 
> Deinodon/Deinodontidae _because of how it feels_...yet you want us to 
> use a different yardstick for Ceratops.

No, I want to use Tyrannosauridae because, from an entirely subjective 
perspective, _Tyrannosaurus_ is an excellent genus to name a family after.  
_Ceratops_ isn't.  Tradition and a phylogenetic definition that includes the 
name-giver both converge at Tyrannosauridae.  They part company at Ceratopsidae.

> if I ever get a TARDIS, I'm going back and napalming the early 
> ceratopsians  and protoceratopsians until no bones remain.  problem 
> solved.

That seems a lit
ed against Daleks and Cybermen and the like.

The "problem" can be solved by less drastic actions than time travel and 
osteological extirpation.  Simply abandon Ceratopsidae in favor of 
Centrosauridae.  Easy.  Or, alternatively, include _Ceratops_ in the definition 
of Ceratopsidae.  This is not so easy, because _Ceratops_ is such a crappy 
genus that no self-respecting phylogenetic analysis wants to touch it with a 
barge-pole.  But such an analysis is a corequisite for including _Ceratops_ in 
the definition of Ceratopsidae.