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Re: tiny-armed theropods

On Wed, Oct 12, 2011 at 7:01 AM, Matthew Martyniuk <martyniuk@gmail.com> wrote:
> I agree that kind of instability wouldn't be ideal in the long run.
> But as long as we're setting up a brand new code, it's a bit of a
> shame that we can't go back and use the opportunity to correct some of
> these kinds of errors in priority. There are numerous cases where a
> long-entrenched name was overturned basically because an influential
> author decided he liked a newer one better
> (*cough*Tyrannosauridae*cough*). ;)

First of all, that would be amazingly unstable. Think of how many
papers use "Tyrannosauridae" vs. "Deinodontidae".

Secondly, the ICZN already gives "Deinodontidae" precedence over
"Tyrannosauridae" (unless you genuinely don't think Deinodon is in the
same family as Tyrannosaurus, which you are free to do). If people
like "Tyrannosauridae" so much that they willing to violate ICZN
rules, they're sure as heck going to violate PhyloCode rules if they
say the same. (A code is supposed to work *for* the community, not
against it.)

Finally, with the PhyloCode, there's no danger of an obscure name
hiding unnoticed in old literature. Why? Because there's a mandatory
registration database. A central repository with all the names and
definitions governed by the code. It'd be nice if we'd been using a
centralized registration database throughout the history of biological
nomenclature, but unfortunately you can't travel back in time and set
Chuck Linnaeus up with a web server.

> Of course, this kind of thing would only work if the code also
> enforced the suggestion that definitions adhere to the original
> contents as strictly as possible. Otherwise you've got somebody
> dredging up an old disused coelopteran name


> and using it to usurp
> Dinosauria or something just by changing the definition.

Impossible under Art. 9.8. http://www.ohio.edu/phylocode/art9.html#art9.8

T. Michael Keesey