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RE: Australodocus a titanosauriform and other new papers



Mickey,

  I am not rejecting the premise that *Giraffatitan* is the best name to use to 
contain *brancai*, over *Brachiosaurus*. I am arguing that we shouldn't be 
splitting taxa without showing phylogenetic support for separating *brancai* 
from a container it shares with *altithorax*. Since Janensch described it, it 
was *Brachiosaurus,* and remained this way until 2009. Despite the claim, no 
phylogenetic consensus exists in this regard, as Taylor pointed out: *brancai* 
has been treated as a virtual proxy for *altithorax* for virtually it's entire 
history such that discussion of *Brachiosaurus* means *brancai*, and any 
systematic revision has continued this trend. Thus the consensus, as you put 
it, favors lumping them. I don't agree with the lumping, and agree with their 
distinction -- hell, even Janensch departed from his own norm in recognizing a 
subordinate species instead of creating a new genus on the fly, as he did 
others and others of his peers, like Stromer and Huene. But where I run aground 
in this argument, and where we talk past one another, is that you, David, Tim, 
and even Mike seem to argue that the function of the "genus" if not its name or 
rank, are useful apart from any other type of clade. As long as we seem to 
disagree on any point in this, this argument cannot go further, and I will stop 
at that point. You and I had an offline discussion on this point, and I am 
satisfied that I do not think I can make myself clearer.

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)


----------------------------------------
> Date: Tue, 12 Jul 2011 03:23:18 -0700
> From: mickey_mortimer111@msn.com
> To: dinosaur@usc.edu
> Subject: RE: Australodocus a titanosauriform and other new papers
>
>
> None of us think "genus" is a special rank- it's just another nested clade.  
> I know I'd be happier if we had uninomial nomenclature, instead of binomial 
> nomenclature where the first name is a phylogenetic hypothesis instead of 
> just being a label.  Taylor, Williams, et al. would probably agree.  But we 
> don't, so we prefer to have our binomial labels be "excessive"/redundant when 
> there is no consensus on the phylogenetic hypothesis that the genus name 
> would indicate.  We're stuck in a taxonomic system at the moment and are 
> simply doing the best we can to give the taxa names which reflect our 
> understanding of their phylogeny.  Brachiosaurus brancai does NOT reflect the 
> consensus phylogeny since no sauropod worker would say brancai is closer to 
> altithorax than any other brachiosaurid.  Giraffatitan brancai DOES reflect 
> consensus phylogeny, since it works out regardless of the phylogeny.  It's 
> this simple.  There's no need to argue to argue how different it is, no need 
> to show it's not the sister of altithorax first, no need to argue which 
> combination is more traditional.  Honestly you're just arguing past us 
> regarding brancai's best used genus until you view genera the same way we do.
>
> Mickey Mortimer
>
> ----------------------------------------
> > Date: Tue, 12 Jul 2011 02:50:35 -0600
> > From: qi_leong@hotmail.com
> > To: david.marjanovic@gmx.at; Dinosaur.Mailing.List@listproc.usc.edu
> > Subject: RE: Australodocus a titanosauriform and other new papers
> >
> >
> > David Marjanovic wrote (in response to me: <<>>):
> >
> > <<"Genera" have baggage, and I argue this as well. They do not mean 
> > "clade,">>
> >
> > <...but they should. That would make a lot of things easier.>
> >
> > Okay, David, you hit the nail on the head ... right after I did. I argue 
> > that if "genera" _are_ clades (which the Linnaean System -- not necessarily 
> > the enforcement by the ICZN, which I didn't mention -- enforces through its 
> > traditional hierarchy) then the term "genus" is excessive. The only value 
> > to the term "genus" is its baggage. I support use of non species clades 
> > being written as italicized, capitalized terms with effective identical 
> > weight (as I have been using on my blog for the last year and a half). This 
> > includes the clade name that is the least inclusive container of the 
> > species name (typically, superspecies, subgenus, genus, etc.). The separate 
> > viability of the "genus" and the term itself (used, I might add, by Taylor) 
> > is what I am questioning. In this, others continue to support the value of 
> > this terminology and thus imply the baggage.
> >
> > <No, Paul had already done that. Taylor only resurrected that genus from 
> > synonymy.>
> >
> > No one used the term *Giraffatitan* save Paul (briefly) and very few other 
> > sauropod workers. It was, in fact, considered a junior synonym of 
> > *Brachiosaurus* in virtually every single treatment on the taxonomy. This 
> > is more "genus" baggage. Taylor used the previously valued "subgenus" 
> > (argued as "real") and recognized its use as a "genus" separate from 
> > *Brachiosaurus*. I do not state (ever) that Taylor named the taxon.
> >
> > <The argument is that *Giraffatitan brancai* is better art than 
> > *Brachiosaurus brancai*.>
> >
> > And I argue (here: 
> > http://qilong.wordpress.com/2011/03/14/taste-versus-science/) that art 
> > should have no place in Science (in this case, taxonomy) other than the 
> > choice of order of letters to use as a label (nomenclature). I write:
> >
> > “Taste” is less useful when we want to assess anything, as “taste” becomes 
> > a blatant bias in big-s Science. It also leads to people “feeling” that 
> > taxa are “more different” than others, largely because of the perceived 
> > value of a character; the value of a character over another two or three 
> > chatacters [sic]; the location of the species in space or time; and even 
> > simply by the relative value of how much material is being used to support 
> > taxonomy. It can result in synonymy or rejection of synonymy, and often for 
> > the same reasons. And if the same argument can merely be inverted to argue 
> > for its opposite, we get a purely unscientific principle. That is “taste.”
> >
> > Doing otherwise pretends that nomenclature equals taxonomy, and then 
> > implies or informs phylogenetics.
> >
> > Incidentally, I make no claim on *Australodocus* ... if its pieces belong 
> > to *Tornieria africana,* then bye-bye *Australodocus bohetii*. However, if 
> > they do not, and if we treat *Australodocus* Remes, 2007 as the least 
> > inclusive clade containing *bohetii* Remes, 2007 just as *Tornieria* 
> > Sternfeld, 1911 is the least inclusive clade containing *africana* Fraas, 
> > 1908, then separation of the species can -- or must -- result in 
> > *Australodocus bohetii* even if *bohetii* it were the sister taxon of 
> > *africana*, giving us *Australodocus bohetii* and *Tornieria africana*. By 
> > this token, I would support *Giraffatitan brancai* even if phylogenetically 
> > it was the sister taxon of *Brachiosaurus altithorax*.
> >
> > Mike Taylor wrote (while I was responding to David):
> >
> > <In the mean time, the scientific staff of the Humboldt Museum in Berlin, 
> > where all the Giraffatitan material resides, have been calling it by its 
> > proper name for some time -- see for example the recent paper on nutrient 
> > foramen size by Seymour, Smith, White, Henderson and Schwarz-Wings.>
> >
> > Where have we been before that followers of a convention were somehow more 
> > right because they assert it so? This is not Science, this is _cult_. 
> > Taylor argues that because he is followed in the convention (just as 
> > *Brontosaurus* was hung onto far beyond it was argued to be a synonym of 
> > *Apatosaurus*) that he is then _right_ in his assertion that *Giraffatitan* 
> > is "its proper name."
> >
> > I also believe that it is impossible to appeal to Taylor's objectivity in 
> > this case if the reasoning for support is an appeal to authority. I do not 
> > think it possible to win this argument when the opponent simply asserts he 
> > believes otherwise.
> >
> > 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)
> >
> >
> > ----------------------------------------
> > > Date: Tue, 12 Jul 2011 10:16:41 +0200
> > > From: david.marjanovic@gmx.at
> > > To: dinosaur@usc.edu
> > > Subject: Re: Australodocus a titanosauriform and other new papers
> > >
> > >
> > >
> > > > Taylor argued that, arbitrarily but based on Linnaean precedent,
> > > > elevating a "subgenus" to "genus" was the useful thing at this point
> > >
> > > No, Paul had already done that. Taylor only resurrected that genus from
> > > synonymy.
> > >
> > > > Because there is no _science_ inherent in the Linnaean System -- that
> > > > is to say, in the Popperian sense, it makes no disprovable argument
> > > > -- its value is reduced. I argue that it becomes art. *Giraffatitan*
> > > > is art, and so is the "genus." We can also argue about _species_
> > > > being art, but that's slightly different (and again because it's
> > > > laden with baggage).
> > >
> > > That's all true. The argument is that *Giraffatitan brancai* is better
> > > art than *Brachiosaurus brancai*.
> >
>