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Re: Sauropodz r kewl WAS silly ramble



Well, I'm not going to keep going round and round.  Like I said,
uninomials and Giraffatitan are two separate conversations in two very
different contexts.  I've said all I have to say on the subject in my
previous message.  If you're still unclear on what my position is, you
can re-read that.

-- Mike.



On 18 April 2012 12:21, Jaime Headden <qi_leong@hotmail.com> wrote:
>
> Mike Taylor wrote:
>
> <On this thread, my point is that names are names and not taxonomies, so it's 
> stupid to encode one specific taxonomy, based on one specific phylogenetic 
> hypothesis, in names. For this reason and for no other, it is sensible to use 
> uninomials rather than binomials.>
>
>   No argument there.
>
> <I don't understand why this is controversial, at least on this list. If 
> Giraffatitan turns out to be a titanosaur rather than a brachiosaurid, its 
> name won't change -- nor it should. But if Camarasaurus lentus turns out to 
> be a brachiosaurid the its NAME will change. That is just stupid.>
>
>   This is where an argument exists. This isn't _just_ this list. The issue is 
> rampant elsewhere, and I am not the first person to make this claim. I've 
> pointed this out to you and others here and elsewhere before. Not that long 
> ago, I mentioned *Ambondro mahabo* and the arguments that were _intrinsic_ to 
> its designation as a non-genus/species uninomial. You, however seeming to 
> prefer uninomials, did not use such an argument when you "raised" 
> *Giraffatitan* from a "subgenus" to a "genus," nor did Paul when he coined 
> the name. Instead, you used _morphological variance_ as your criterion for 
> arguing that *altithorax* and *brancai* shouldn't be in the same "genus." 
> This is an argument that fits right into what genus the "Megalodon" shark 
> falls into, and is a common trait in paleontological taxonomy. Seriously, go 
> look up taxonomy in *Dicynodon* and *Lystrosaurus* and a host of other fun 
> dicynodonts: _morphologic_ variance is SECONDARY to _stratigraphic_ and 
> _temporal_ variance, with a smattering of _ontogenetic_ thrown in.
>
>   I know you read my blog, Mike, and if I write something so egregious to set 
> one's ear on end, I encourage anyone here, David and you included, to comment 
> there. You may even do so anonymously. I even suggested to Darren Naish and 
> his coauther Valentin Fischer that their attempt at *Ophthalmosauridae* 
> taxonomy could be _solved_ by designating every single species to its own 
> "genus-species couplet" or similar uninomial, that the use of *Baptanodon* 
> for what is currently *Ophthalmosaurus natans* is almost assured by their 
> phylogeny and argument of paraphyly, and so forth.
>
>   The fact of the argument is is that YOU did not quantify the reasoning that 
> _morphological variance_ matters to nomenclature, yet simply pointed out that 
> others have argued it is relevant. Moreover, you put nomenclature where 
> science has yet to stand firm, much less step. There was perfectly good 
> terminology separating the two forms you described, *altithorax* and 
> *brancai*, yet did not regard these names to be useful for your purposes, and 
> this is where the "genus" was employed. NOT the uninomial. HAD you made the 
> uninomial argument, and reflected on its case throughout the tree you 
> presented -- and likely applied this to those taxa -- you might have won over 
> a good deal of support, but instead you used flimsy reasoning and a tree that 
> did not support your preclusion to put *Giraffatitan* at genus rank to 
> include *brancai*. I'm not sure how more explicit I can be in pointing out 
> how specious this is.
>
>   If you follow the uninomial "slippery slope," you will end up 
> re-designating every single species name not currently a type species of a 
> "genus" as a unique uninomial. This will require extensive taxonomy. I, oddly 
> enough, am in favor of this idea as it will help eliminate the subjective 
> idea that all species can be grade don importance or relevance because some 
> have their own "genus" while some do not. Why we have a *Turiasauria* and a 
> *Saltasaurinae* and not just *Turiasaurus* sp.a, b, c, or *Saltasaurus* sp.a, 
> b, c.
>
>   The alternative, and my preferred solution, is the loss of the ridiculous 
> paleontological "species" and use instead of the "genus" form, a reflection 
> instead on morphological variance. It would be JUST *species A*, JUST 
> *species B*. These would merely operate as morphological species, which are 
> then included in containing clades. All clade names would be capitalized, and 
> only used when containing at least two other taxa -- anything else would be 
> redundant, and therefore useless.
>
> <Elsewhere, in a completely different context, I argued that *given we 
> already use genus+species names in sauropd taxonomy* it's much more 
> consistent in those terms that two very different taxa not be forced by 
> history to share a name when there is NO bone that is the same between the 
> two of them. It's going to happen anyway, the moment someone publishes a 
> phylogenetic analysis that has more then two brachiosaurs in it: you should 
> trust me on this.>
>
>   But, they don't share a name. They are *altithorax* Riggs, 1903 and 
> *brancai* Janensch, 1914. I'm not sure how hard this is to understand.
>
> 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)
>
>
> ----------------------------------------
>> From: mike@indexdata.com
>> Date: Wed, 18 Apr 2012 11:38:16 +0100
>> Subject: Re: Sauropodz r kewl WAS silly ramble
>> To: qi_leong@hotmail.com
>> CC: david.marjanovic@gmx.at; Dinosaur.Mailing.List@listproc.usc.edu
>>
>> You're conflating two completely separate nomenclatural issues here.
>>
>> On this thread, my point is that names are names and not taxonomies,
>> so it's stupid to encode one specific taxonomy, based on one specific
>> phylogenetic hypothesis, in names. For this reason and for no other,
>> it is sensible to use uninomials rather than binomials.
>>
>> I don't understand why this is controversial, at least on this list.
>> If Giraffatitan turns out to be a titanosaur rather than a
>> brachiosaurid, its name won't change -- nor it should. But if
>> Camarasaurus lentus turns out to be a brachiosaurid the its NAME will
>> change. That is just stupid.
>>
>> OK. That's the point I am making on this thread.
>>
>> Elsewhere, in a completely different context, I argued that *given we
>> already use genus+species names in sauropd taxonomy* it's much more
>> consistent in those terms that two very different taxa not be forced
>> by history to share a name when there is NO bone that is the same
>> between the two of them. It's going to happen anyway, the moment
>> someone publishes a phylogenetic analysis that has more then two
>> brachiosaurs in it: you should trust me on this.
>>
>> -- Mike.
>>
>>
>>
>> On 18 April 2012 11:18, Jaime Headden <qi_leong@hotmail.com> wrote:
>> >
>> > David Marjanovic wrote:
>> >
>> > <He's using a genus _name_ as a _clade name_. I really can't see why he 
>> > shouldn't.>
>> >
>> >   He's using the concept of the rank, as is present in his paper and in 
>> > his SV-POW! posts on the paper. Just for example, there's this from pg. 
>> > 798 in Taylor, 2009:
>> >
>> >   "Although McIntosh (1990b:65) felt that “the coracoid, femur, and sacrum 
>> > of the two species are in complete accord,” differences exist in both 
>> > coracoid and femur, as well as the humerus, ilium, caudals, and most 
>> > significantly the dorsal vertebrae. Since poor preservation prevents 
>> > detailed comparison of the sacra, and lack of information about ribs makes 
>> > it impossible to evaluate the significance of observed differences, these 
>> > elements are therefore uninformative for comparative purposes. All 
>> > elements sufficiently well preserved in both species, then, exhibit 
>> > distinct differences, and generic separation is warranted since the two 
>> > species are more different from each other than, for example, Diplodocus 
>> > and Barosaurus Marsh, 1890. Accordingly, the name Giraffatitan will be 
>> > used in the remainder of this paper."
>> >
>> >   Aside from extensive use of the term "genus" in the paper, derivatives 
>> > of that noun, and its use on the website, Taylor has come down on the side 
>> > of preferring uninomials, and I appreciate his condor on this. However, 
>> > this doesn't condone the extensive use of the term regardless of its 
>> > loaded lack of value. Moreover, regardless of preferring uninomials, Mike 
>> > consistently uses the "praenomens" over any combination of it and the 
>> > species epithet in the paper (which rather enforces the subjective value 
>> > the "genus" places in our language and nomenclature).
>> >
>> >   I agree with Mike that the specific case of *Giraffatitan brancai* makes 
>> > sense -- if it weren't predicated on the unquantified issue of how much 
>> > variation equals generic separation (the secondary premise of the paper). 
>> > Attempting to qualify "genera" on the basis of an unquantified variable, 
>> > even more interesting given the current trend of SV-POW! posts referring 
>> > to Woodruff and Fowler's 2012 paper on subjective ontogeny in diplodocoid 
>> > sauropods.
>> >
>> > <Please explain what you mean by "concordant value" and "intrinsic value".>
>> >
>> >   I may need to use "relative value" instead, but...
>> >   Specimen MPC-D 100/978 is _intrinsic_ to the "nature" of *Citipati 
>> > osmolskae*, as it represents the type specimen. Specimen MPC-D 100/979 is 
>> > _concordant_ with the nature of *Citipati osmolskae*, as it represents a 
>> > specimen that is morphologically similar or nearly identical with the 
>> > postcrania of MPC-D 100/978. In this way, concordant means "aligns with," 
>> > "agrees with," but is far more specific than a generalization.
>> >
>> >   In use: Ranks are concordant to taxa in particular positions on a 
>> > phylogram, but they are not intrinsic to the position of said taxa on the 
>> > cladogram. (Despite this, position of taxa move and may or may not take 
>> > their "ranks" with them.)
>> >
>> > <Given the high probability that *Brachiosaurus* and *Giraffatitan* are 
>> > not sister-groups, it was a good move to separate them nomenclaturally.>
>> >
>> >   What probability? One analysis, so far, was inconclusive on this regard 
>> > (Taylor's). It made the presumption that morphologic variability = generic 
>> > separation, but did not prove this case. It can't be proven on such a 
>> > ground, simply because the existence of the "genus" is both subjective and 
>> > non-intrinsic to biology. But notice that the sentence YOU WROTE alludes 
>> > to the idea that what you are referring to is either
>> >   1) a uninomial (which might exclude use of the "species," as if it 
>> > didn't matter or exist) or
>> >   2) the very convention my post referred to, where "genus" is given 
>> > primacy as the currency of taxonomy, ignoring that it does not actually 
>> > represent anything to do with "species" in the system of note.
>> >   If anything, the system is actually a mishmash of Phylogenetic 
>> > Nomenclature, the ICZN, and some unholy offspring bred back to the 
>> > original (ignoring the existence of "species").
>> >
>> >   You see, the names are already separated nomenclaturally: *brancai* and 
>> > *altithorax* are substantially different from one another. Separating them 
>> > further requires you to continue to presume that *Giraffatitan* and 
>> > *Brachiosaurus* are different from their contained names, and that is what 
>> > I've been getting at.
>> >
>> >   Once again, this is not meant to hash on Mike. He and I have had our 
>> > back and forth, and I'd like to work on rebuilding some sort of positive 
>> > relationship without giving up the integrity of my premise, that the use 
>> > of ranks is unscientific, and hypocritical of authors to claim otherwise 
>> > when validating their nomenclatural changes.
>> >
>> > 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, 17 Apr 2012 14:48:18 +0200
>> >> From: david.marjanovic@gmx.at
>> >> To: dinosaur@usc.edu
>> >> Subject: Re: Sauropodz r kewl WAS silly ramble
>> >>
>> >> Am 17.04.2012 14:09, schrieb Jaime Headden:
>> >>
>> >> > It was not my intention to be hostile, so the tone of the response I
>> >> > received from Mike seems particularly odd.
>> >>
>> >> But apparently it wasn't sent to the list (I haven't received it), so
>> >> there's probably no point in discussing it here...
>> >>
>> >> > Consider that the commentary of this entire thread has been on the
>> >> > efficacy of certain names, especially referring to *Brachiosaurus* as
>> >> > an equivalence to *Brachiosaurus altithorax*, which in zoological
>> >> > terms would be just *B. altithorax* for the most part.
>> >>
>> >> (Point taken, but even neontologists don't abbreviate genus names before
>> >> they've spelled them out once.)
>> >>
>> >> > [...] *Brachiosaurus*, being capitalized, it the primary element of
>> >> > the name, a fault I'd rather lay at the feet of Linnaeus than anyone
>> >> > else, but a typical effect in the classical language he was using.
>> >>
>> >> It's not simply a side effect of the default word order of Latin;
>> >> Linnaeus deliberately employed it because of his philosophy. To him, the
>> >> genus really was the basic _general_ unit, and the species was
>> >> _specific_. It was an additional subdivision diagnosed by "less
>> >> important", less "general", more "specific" characters. The modern
>> >> emphasis on species as units of biodiversity and genera as a
>> >> biologically meaningless rank is much younger; Linnaeus thought that
>> >> genera were real.
>> >>
>> >> > and even the ICZN doesn't tolerate or regard anything higher than
>> >> > "family-level" ranks.
>> >>
>> >> Not true. Most rules (such as priority) don't extend above the family
>> >> group of ranks, but the use of higher ranks is not at all discouraged.
>> >>
>> >> > Growing is the movement to abandon ranks, and their concordant
>> >> > problems. I've written on this on my blog ad nauseam, and of course
>> >> > many of the offenders have defended their choices, but all of them
>> >> > have and will continue to use "genus" without any care for its lack
>> >> > of scientific value. When Mike argues about what I'm talking about,
>> >> > his very message is ripe with the problem I speak of, his continuing
>> >> > demonstration that despite knowing a genus means nothing, _he's still
>> >> > using it_.
>> >>
>> >> He's using a genus _name_ as a _clade name_. I really can't see why he
>> >> shouldn't.
>> >>
>> >> > When Mike says "[t]hey're just names on characteristic specimens",
>> >> > then he really doesn't understand the problem to its extreme:
>> >> > scientific nomenclature names the specimens as proxies for a set of
>> >> > organisms, but the "genus" and the "species" are completely different
>> >> > from the _specimens_,
>> >>
>> >> The names are attached to the type specimens; the set of organisms
>> >> consists of the type specimen and, in practice (at least in
>> >> paleontology), all others that are similar enough to it.
>> >>
>> >> > and intend to describe instead a set without any concordant value.
>> >> > _They have no intrinsic value_.
>> >>
>> >> Please explain what you mean by "concordant value" and "intrinsic value".
>> >>
>> >> > I similarly have no problem with a taxon named *Giraffatitan* or
>> >> > another named *Brachiosaurus*. What I have a problem with is people
>> >> > determining that a taxon named *brancai* MUST or SHOULD be divided
>> >> > from *altithorax* in a fixed fashion that can be comapred to other
>> >> > issues, like how to divide *Psittacosaurus* into neat, clean "genera"
>> >> > or whatever.
>> >>
>> >> These two cases are the same as far as the ICZN is concerned, but not as
>> >> far as the practice of the last few decades is concerned.
>> >> *Psittacosaurus* as currently understood is, apparently, monophyletic.
>> >> *Brachiosaurus* as it used to be understood is probably not
>> >> monophyletic; in addition to Mike's own phylogenetic analysis which
>> >> showed a lack of evidence for monophyly, there's one that finds it to be
>> >> para- or polyphyletic (I don't remember) and was presented at last
>> >> year's SVP meeting. The ICZN is fine with para- and even polyphyletic
>> >> genera; but few biologists these days are. Given the high probability
>> >> that *Brachiosaurus* and *Giraffatitan* are not sister-groups, it was a
>> >> good move to separate them nomenclaturally.
>> >>
>> >> > [...] paleontologists and zoologists may have directly contradicting
>> >> > views on species identification, despite using the same nomenclatural
>> >> > system.
>> >>
>> >> Different neontologists have very different views on species
>> >> identification, too. There is much controversy over many individual
>> >> cases and over general questions like whether subspecies should be
>> >> recognized at all (as opposed to promoting them to species rank).
>> >
>> >
>
>