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Re: Platecarpus tympaniticus - how to analyze a nomen dubium

On 21 September 2010 12:45, Anthony Docimo <keenir@hotmail.com> wrote:
> okay, let's say that, twenty years from now, I discover a dinosaur that is as 
> related to other Archosaurs as the Pangolins are to other Mammalia.
> When I and my co-describers name it, are we supposed to leave its 
> classificiation blank?:
> Kingdom: Animalia
>  Phylum: Chordata
>  Class: Reptilia
> Superorder: Dinosauria
>  Order: Saurischia
> Suborder:  ??
> Family:  No clue
> Subfamily:  did you not read the above?
> Genus:  Allonovadontatherus
> Species:  redcliff
> or should I fill in the blanks myself?

No, you leave it blank.  In fact, don't even leave it blank -- don't
mention it at all.  When you describe a new species you must give it a
species name (which due to a historical accident also means giving it
a genus name) -- that is all.  There is no requirement to say anything
at all about Subfamily, Family, Suborder and all the rest.  Just say
which is the least inclusive clade that you're pretty confident that
it belongs to, and move on.  Anything else is just castles in the

And this of course is exactly what we did a few years ago when
describing a sauropod that was too aberrant to refer confidently to
any of the known sauropod families.  We just named the species
(Xenoposeidon proneneukos), referred it to Neosauropoda incertae
sedis, and we were done.

Hopefully one day someone will discover a more complete specimen of it
or a relative, and be able to show that it's a super-derived
titanosaur or rebbachisaur whatever.  But until then, there would be
no value at all in assigning it to a "family".  Even if we knew what
that meant.