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Re: Having your ideas published without attribution, and having your names with priority ignored

Mickey Mortimer <mickey_mortimer111@msn.com> wrote:

> So, Gao et al. have a paper out in the new JVP issue with the major 
> conclusion "Examination of the characters used to diagnose other named 
> sapeornithid
> species reveals that such diagnoses have incorporated morphologies that are 
> influenced by either taphonomy or ontogeny. Based on qualitative and 
> quantitative
> comparisons between the new specimen and other sapeornithid species, we argue 
> that all other named sapeornithids are junior synonyms of S. chaoyangensis."
> Does that sound familiar to anyone?  Moreover they are the latest and one the 
> most egregious examples of workers utterly ignoring Omnivoropteryx and
> Omnivoropterygidae, the latter of which has four years priority over 
> Sapeornithidae.  More here- 
> http://theropoddatabase.blogspot.com/2012/08/having-your-ideas-
> published-without.html .  Thoughts?

Well, since you ask...    ;-)

On using Sapeornithidae in preference to Omnivoropterygidae... Fine by
me.  The original description of _Omnivoropteryx_ was crap, and
appeared in a crap "journal".  Above all, the circumstances
surrounding the description of this fossil have profound ethical
concerns.  I'd prefer that the name (and namers) not be rewarded by
having "Omnivoropterygidae" perpetuated any further.  So I'm happy to
see Sapeornithidae gain traction as the preferred family-level name,
and Omnivoropterygidae consigned to oblivion.

All this might be in technical violation of the ICZN.  BFD. The ICZN
rules regarding the priority of family-level named are set aside all
the time.  We use Deinodontidae instead of Tyrannosauridae, even
though the former has priority (says the ICZN).  We also use
Dromaeosauridae instead of Ornithodesmidae (ditto), and Diplodocidae
instead of Atlantosauridae (again, ditto).  Tyrannosauridae,
Dromaeosauridae and Diplodocidae are all used for convenience, and for
the sake of stability - in defiance of what family names the ICZN says
we *should* use.  I'm happy to have ICZN govern the priority of genera
and species, but anything higher (such as family-level names) should
be turned over to phylogenetic taxonomy.  When it comes to
family-level names, the ICZN is about as useful as a chocolate teapot.

If researchers want to use Sapeornithidae instead of
Omnivoropterygidae based on personal (and professional) preference,
then so be it.  Nomenclature should serve scientific endeavor, not the
other way around.  I'm calling bullshit on this priority-at-all-cost
rationale of the ICZN for family names.  If a family name is
well-established, then stick with it.  Sapeornithidae is
well-established.  Tough titties for Omnivoropterygidae.

So yeah, those are my thoughts.  :-)