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RE: Vitakridrinda publication validity

  With regards to the Wikipedia issue, I disabused myself of wanting to alter 
something on that page after dealing with a variety of discussions regarding 
competing editing wars, including but not limited to the hilarity of 
"Conservapaedia." I will not mention these other conflicts further, save to 
note that I prefer the medium of somewhat more fixed discussion media; hence, 
the blog. I think Wikipedia is a fine experiment of a flexible database, but it 
depends not on "truth" or "facts" but on the changing moods and prevailing 
actions of some editors or others. I do not wish to involve myself in this 
particularly, and I do not think it "immoral" to not act within it.

  My error on "amphisbaenian/gymnophionan"; the skulls are too bloody similar 
in general....

  On the issue of designating new "families", a much more specific issue 

  The gymnophionan "family" being erected is based on an argument that purports 
morphological distinction between a "genus" and two or more others. This could 
have been established with the "genus" alone, and no metric was given in the 
paper by which this decision was reached, just that it was. It was offered in 
accordance to a previous analysis, Wilkinson et al., which offered a form of 
old-time taxonomic revision by distinguishing nine "families" of caecilian, 
which was itself generated under no actual metric evaluation: the authors 
offered a synopsid of relationships published elsewhere and then just "revised" 
them by offering diagnoses and definitions for the names, but gave no -- none, 
nada -- method by which to assess the reasoning for the determinations.

  The new (unpublished, in regards to the ICZN, and my sensibilities about 
unresolved issues regarding digital-only nomenclature with paper-based "proper" 
versions) paper distinguishes a species that, in many cases, could just as 
easily be a species within *Herpelidae*, and if the authors felt that it 
doesn't fall into *Herpeles* or *Gegenophis*, I can think they are justifiable 
in using new nomenclature to erect new "genera". Rather, my issue falls on the 
"family," which pretends that there is a viable metric of distance that allows 
any systematist to tell whether a new rank _is_ present, as if it were a fact 
of nature.

  There is an additional issue at play, which I mentioned before, but it 
doesn't play as strongly as my dislike for monotypic "families" being raised 
because of the so-called "distinctiveness" factor. Nothing about evolution, so 
far, tells us that new ranks are generated when animals are particularly novel 
in some areas but not in others: the only novelty the animal in question has is 
a coalesced (or single) antotic foramen, while stapedial foramina are 
_variable_ in other caecilian taxa, and I am simply unfamiliar with the 
distribution of rostral cranial fusion of pairs of bones (both premaxillae, 
etc.). This isn't to say anything about the validity of a genetic population 
for which the name *fulleri* had been useful for. The authors, however, came 
across the issue of placing *fulleri* outside of a group of which several 
members had previously been given different "generic" names.

  Given the choice of lumping them down or splitting them up, the authors chose 
the latter, and I can accept this -- except where it results in polyphyly, as 
with Fischer et al. recently creating a new "genus-species couplet" for a new 
taxon that by happenstance makes *Ophthalmosaurus* paraphyletic. I mention this 
case on my blog 
where there are two additional options: again, lumping back down, or splitting 
further up. But in this case, the authors argued against the latter -- for 
which a known name *Baptanodon* is available for one of the mentioned species 
-- which just enforces the issue of "distinctiveness = new ranks."

  It is my personal opinion that there is a systematized drive for scientists 
who deal with nomenclature to want to make new taxonomy, if either for the sake 
of meddling or for the sake of recognition of their work: new nomenclature 
brings with it a tag with your name on it at the end, and attention, which 
itself brings funding. Thus, there is a conflict of interest that favors 
systematists to name new taxa, and its is in many ways abetted by the Linnaean 
System which affords that each rank should have a name, and where once each 
rank down towards a species HAD to have a name, which is primarily the reason 
we have so many bloody "families," "orders," and "suborders" in the system to 
begin with. This system is not scientific, and doesn't actually help us answer 
any scientific questions, nor assess (correctly) evolutionary progression or 
descent. It, in fact, obscures it, and thus does a disservice to Science, a 
point which I discuss on my blog practically once a month. It is also my 
personal opinion that it is far easier to name new taxa than to lump it: few 
systematists follow lumping paradigms than follow the use of new nomenclature, 
an exception being Jack Horner's arguments regarding reduction of taxonomy by 
attempting to show direct subjective synonymy through ontogeny. I think this is 
part of the flaw of the system in general.

  So, in short, I feel that the system itself needs an overhaul, and trying to 
deal with this while working with Wikipedia's system is immensely difficult. 
I'd rather have the system revised (and the ICB/ZN abandoned) than work on an 
_ad hoc_ basis every time this issue shows up.


  Jaime A. Headden
  The Bite Stuff (site v2)

"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 

> Date: Mon, 27 Feb 2012 20:05:11 +0100
> From: david.marjanovic@gmx.at
> To: dinosaur@usc.edu
> Subject: RE: Vitakridrinda publication validity
> > 1. Perhaps you misunderstood. The issue [I have] with *Ambondro mahabo*
> > is that it is referred to as a genus-species couplet in further
> > literature, not just Wikipedia;
> OK; I'm just saying Wikipedia can be taken care of.
> > This means that taxonomic listings treat it as "genus" + species, not
> > an unranked praenomen in front of a species name.
> It's not even that (in the original paper anyway). It's a uninominal for an 
> unranked taxon that has a space in the middle. Not "new species", just "new 
> taxon".
> > 2.My issue with changing things on wiki is that just as easily someone
> > who disagrees can change it back. I attempted this on the oviraptorosaur
> > pages, and the changes I had attempted (years back) were undone.
> Did you explain your changes and the reasons for them on the talk page?
> > editors' prerogatives on how they want to allow changes from schmucks
> > like myself.
> Everyone is an editor. (Not everyone is an administrator, but administrators 
> seldom meddle in such things.)
> > 3. Also misunderstood, I think. I am referring to the primary body of
> > the text. The designation of *Ambondro mahabo* as it was by Flynn et
> > al. will not not recognized for what it is when "unranked" is used in
> > the infobox. It should be in the main text, and compared to other
> > discussions. This was the primary reason I balked at the editing (plus,
> > I'm also a schmuck).
> I'm not quite sure what you mean. I'll attempt a thorough edit myself 
> tomorrow.
> > One recent example was the "discovery" of a new family of
> > amphisbaenians/gymnophionans
> Amphisbaenians are squamates. Gymnophionans/caecilians are lissamphibians.
> > that has been reported (but is currently unpublished)
> (On paper.)
> > through redesignation of *Gegeneophis fulleri* (nee *Herpele fulleri*)
> > to a new "genus," and the designation of a new "family" to contain it,
> > plus apparently a range of potentially new species within said "genus".
> > The "genus" in question is considered monospecific, and the authors'
> > reasoning is based on typical Linnaeist typological thinking ("this
> > object is very distinct" or "more distinct" -- not actual quotes).
> The genus is easy to justify: in order to lump it with *Herpele*, you'd have 
> to lump *Boulengerula* in there as well; in order to lump it with 
> *Gegeneophis* (has that species, previously known from a single, 
> morphologically badly preserved specimen, ever been referred to 
> *Gegeneophis*?), it and most other caecilians would have to be sunk (back) 
> into *Caecilia*.
> The family is justified in the paper by comparison to other families in terms 
> of morphological distance and divergence time (the diagnosis of Herpelidae 
> would have to be changed a lot, and most gymnophionan families are younger 
> than the divergence between Herpelidae and the new one). That's the 
> Linnaeanist part, of which I have to say the "why not" is as strong as the 
> "why".
> Free pdf: 
> http://rspb.royalsocietypublishing.org/content/early/2012/02/15/rspb.2012.0150.full.pdf+html
> Free supplementary information: 
> http://rspb.royalsocietypublishing.org/content/early/2012/02/15/rspb.2012.0150/suppl/DC1