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Re: Magnapaulia, "new" lambeosaurine from Baja California, Mexico

It's not as black and white as you say, David. I understand that the species 
concept is not a monolithic thing, that many of us think ranks are stupid, but 
your grudge against the ICZN seems a little unfair to me. The binomial system 
is the only way to keep things concise and not confusing. I'm sort of having 
trouble articulating my thoughts here, and please don't consider me a 'crank' 
for my skepticism or misunderstandings. I don't think Linnean taxonomy should 
be dismantled/shoved aside. I think it should complement cladistics; I am a 
strong believer in evolutionary grades, too. Paraphyletic groups (thecodonts, 
therapsids, hypsilophodonts, reptilia...) are still useful and such terms are, 
to my knowledge, still used. Would you rather say 
"non-dinosaurian/pterosaurian/crocodilian archosaurs" or just "thecodonts"? I 
prefer to keep my tounge away from any danger of getting tied, so to speak ;-).

T. Yazbeck

From: "David Marjanovic" <david.marjanovic@gmx.at> 
To: "DML" <dinosaur@usc.edu> 
Sent: Wednesday, June 13, 2012 4:39:06 AM 
Subject: Re: Magnapaulia, "new" lambeosaurine from Baja California, Mexico 

To first answer the question that is actually about science: it has 
often been said that hadrosaurs or ceratopsids are all the same 
postcranially (or nearly so), but very few people have ever looked... 
precisely because everyone already knows they're all the same. To a 
large extent it's a self-fulfilling prophecy! 

Am 13.06.2012 07:06, schrieb tyazbeck@comcast.net: 

>  I understand where you are coming from, but I think that the 
>  disproportionate number of dinosaur genera is deceptive, that's all. 

Genera are _already_ deceptive. Ranks are deceptive. 

>  However, the genus, though arbitrary, still is unavoidable. 

Yeah, because the International Code of Zoological Nomenclature requires 
that every species be referred to a genus (to the point that genus names 
are part of species names). 

>  Dinosaurologists dodge species-level ranks quite frequently, as 
>  compared to other extinct vertebrates. 

That's because they've understood that even species are deceptive. 

As of February 2009, there were 147 different species concepts out 
there. Depending on the species concept, there are from 101 to 249 
endemic bird species in Mexico... yes, almost 2 1/2 as many. 

>  I also think that assigning a specimen to a new/seperate genus for 
>  geographical reasons is not always a good idea. 

Who does that? Has anyone done that since the 1930s? 

>  I think the 'genus' issue can be compared to using different 
>  measurement units: 

No, it can't. It's not a unit of biodiversity or of anything else. It's 
a unit of taste. 

And while many species concepts describe units of biodiversity, they 
each describe different things! They have nothing in common except the 
word "species". Again, the only real reason why we keep pretending 
otherwise is the ICZN, which doesn't allow you to give a name to an 
animal if you don't refer it to a species. 

>  Please forgive me for such a weird approach to this; I have my tastes 
>  and opinions when it comes to classification... 

I have tastes when it comes to icecream; not when it comes to science. 
The study of biodiversity is science.