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RE: Alamosaurus as biggest North American sauropod



  As collection and investigation proceeds, we should eventually begin to 
collect more and more of potentially new taxa. If we relegate our choices for 
what gets named to reasonably complete specimens and groups of such specimens, 
regardless of the fact that "the fossil record is incomplete!!", then the 
taxonomy is likelier to become more stable, not less. If naming conventions 
based on single elements, or bunches of scrap, as was the case with *Allosaurus 
fragilis* or such, persist, then the problem of crap material (and thus crap 
taxa) continues.

  Sustaining the practices of ye old will only provide further momentum to 
continue the tried and true method practiced by systematics of ye old merry 
establishments, of Owen and Marsh and Cope continuing to use bits and shreds of 
skeleton and getting everything terribly wrong. We can say that science marches 
on, but we're having to carry the corpses of dead scientists who were often 
quite motivated to name anything and everything as though they continue to 
provide valuable insight on what should be named in the future.

  If this means that *Tyrannosaurus rex* Osborn is a crap taxon, then so be it.

Cheers,

  Jaime A. Headden
  The Bite Stuff (site v2)
  http://qilong.wordpress.com/

"Innocent, unbiased observation is a myth." --- P.B. Medawar (1969)


"Ever since man first left his cave and met a stranger with a
different language and a new way of looking at things, the human race
has had a dream: to kill him, so we don't have to learn his language or
his new way of looking at things." --- Zapp Brannigan (Beast With a Billion 
Backs)


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> Date: Fri, 9 Dec 2011 08:10:27 -0500
> Subject: Re: Alamosaurus as biggest North American sauropod
> From: martyniuk@gmail.com
> To: qi_leong@hotmail.com
> CC: tijawi@gmail.com; dinosaur@usc.edu
>
> On Thu, Dec 8, 2011 at 7:58 PM, Jaime Headden <qi_leong@hotmail.com> wrote:
> >
> >   The best strategy, in my opinion, is to simply do away with crap taxa. If 
> > you base your nomen on crap, and you can't distinguish it from two or more 
> > taxa (MMM = Mickey Mortimer's metric), regardless of its provenance, 
> > horizon, or the authors' preclusions about its ontogeny or gender, then 
> > that nomen deserves to be relegated to the annals of me laughing at you 
> > (the nomen, not the descriptors).
>
> This is completely unsustainable and revisionist. _Titanosaurus
> indicus_ was not a "crap taxon" when it was described. It was
> perfectly diagnosable relative to knowledge of sauropods *at that
> time*. A century of further discoveries rendered it "crap" *in
> comparison to* more and better finds.
>
> By this philosophy, we should never name any fossil taxa (or many
> modern taxa for that matter) for fear that further research may render
> previously diagnostic characters uninformative. Think the holotype of
> _Tyrannosaurus_ is diagnostic? What if in ten years we find that, say,
> the number of metacarpals varies between species of tyrannosaurines?
> Or we find mummified specimens showing that some had different
> patterns of squamation that could not be predicted by osteology? Even
> if none of those specimens and no variation can be found within the
> same geographic or stratigraphic level as the holotype, is the
> _Tyrannosaurus_ then a declared a "crap taxon"?
>
> Matt