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Re: tiny-armed theropods



Anthony Docimo <keenir@hotmail.com> wrote:

>  and by "community", do you mean the scientific community, or the public?

The scientific community i.e., those in the field.


>  Does that apply across the board, or should they only have the right to defy 
> the ICZN?

"Defy" is perhaps a bit strong.  This is the ICZN, not Syria. Nobody's
going to be banging the _Troodon_ type specimen with the soles of
their shoes.


What's happened is that over time certain names have accreted into
preferred usage (such as Tyrannosauridae), even though the ICZN Code
directs that other names should have priority (such as Deinodontidae).
 But unless a petition is made to the ICZN, the ICZN does not act to
enforce this priority.


>  (when PhyloCode or anything else has the authority and weight that the ICZN 
> presently has, will
> you say "we should let sauropod workers decide" or will you say "we have to 
> comply" ?)


See above.  The authority and weight of the ICZN are only actively
enforced once a petition is made.  The ICZN has often been petitioned
to designate a new type specimen (neotype) of a genus - such as
_Iguanodon_ or _Coelophysis_ or _Stegosaurus_.  In this situation, the
ICZN's decision is binding.  But family-level taxonomy rarely gets the
same attention.  For example, the ICZN has never been asked to
formally rule on whether Tyrannosauridae can replace Deinodontidae as
the valid name of the family.  It just happened, through usage.


Sometimes corrections are made, and usage changes as a result.  In
1994, Torvosauroidea was erected by Sereno &c for the clade that
included spinosaurids and torvosaurids. In 1995, it was pointed out
(by Olshevsky) that Spinosauroidea has priority over Torvosauroidea,
because Torvosauridae was erected in 1985 whereas Spinosauridae was
erected in 1915.  Under ICZN rules, Spinosauroidea must replace
Torvosauroidea.  These days, this clade tends to be called
Megalosauroidea, because Megalosauridae (1869) trumps both
Torvosauridae and Spinosauridae.


But in the case of Torvo/Spino/Megalosauroidea, theropod workers chose
to abide by the ICZN rules - which is why three different names for
the same clade have been used since 1994.  The ICZN did not actively
intervene to enforce its rules.  If Sereno et al. (1994) had called
the clade Torvosauria, or another name that was not a coordinated
family-level taxon (such as Mofotheropoda) then the name would have
stuck, because the name would have been exempt from ICZN rules.  By
contrast, an -oidea name that is derived from an -idae name is subject
to ICZN rules, because it is inferred to be a "superfamily".
Unfortunately.  Frankly, I thought Torvosauroidea was the best of the
three.


Similarly, strictly speaking, if _Podokesaurus_ is found to be closely
related to _Coelophysis_, then the taxon Coelophysoidea should be
re-named Podokesauroidea - because of ICZN rules.  But IMHO it's a bad
idea to change the name from Coelophysoidea to Podekesauroidea (and
back again, if necessary) simply because of the labile position of
_Podokesaurus_ relative to _Coelophysis_.  Let's come up with a name,
and stick to it.  And it would really help the cause of nomenclatural
stability if crappy genera (especially nomina dubia) were *not* used
as name-bearing taxa.







Cheers

Tim