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Re: Foraminacephale gen. nov.

Mike Taylor <mike@indexdata.com> wrote:

> I'm never sure how I feel about this.  Even given that a dissertation,
> however freely available and widely copied, does not count as
> "published" for ICZN purposes, doesn't Schott's naming this animal in
> a thesis and making it freely available at least constitute a good,
> solid marker in the ground?  It's notice of intent to publish, and
> should warn off anyone who had been considering naming the same
> animal.  (Not that this helped, Heliocanthus, of course, but that was
> an exceptional case.)
> Really, what is the downside of putting a name out there as a nomen
> nudum before formal publication?  I am not sure I can see one, other
> than that it's "not done".  Which is not a particularly compelling
> argument.

I'm not sure how I feel about it either.  On the one hand, a nomen
nudum could be seen as a place-holder that serves as a deterrent
against claim-jumping.

On the other hand, if the author of the nomen nudum never actually
gets around to publishing the name in a formal (ICZN-approved)
publication, then the name just hangs around like a bad smell.  This
could actually harm the scientific process, because other scientists
may feel they are being 'warned off' examining a fossil if it already
carries a nomen nudum.

For example, over ten years passed between the naming of the
ornithopod "Gravisaurus" in a dissertation (1988) and its formal
publication in the scientific literature, as _Lurdusaurus_ (1999).
During this time the original author left the field of paleontology,
so there was nil chance of her ever putting out a formal publication.
Using a nomen nudum as a de facto declaration of an 'intent to
publish' could be unhelpful.

If erecting a nomen nudum is being used as an informal way to prevent
claim-jumping (as in the _Heliocanthus_ example), then having a nomen
nudum probably wouldn't help anyway.  Any individual who's
unscrupulous enough to claim-jump may not be deterred by a non-binding
nomen nudum.