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RE: Microraptor hanqingi, new species from China.

> From: owner-DINOSAUR@usc.edu [mailto:owner-DINOSAUR@usc.edu] 
> On Behalf Of Brad McFeeters
> > Something worth pointing out here:
> >
> > * Paleontologists who work in other taxa (especially in 
> > non-vertebrates) consider pretty much all dinosaur 
> paleontologists as 
> > crazy splitters. In some cases, Greg's lumping is more in line with 
> > standard taxonomic practice for other paleotaxa than is the 
> standards of the community. (Basically, most of the taxa at 
> "subfamily" or "tribe" levels in dinosaur paleo [or at least 
> those with -inae and and -ini endings] would wind up as 
> genera in other disciplines).
> Do taxonomists in these other specialties care if genera are 
> paraphyletic?  That's the usual justification I see whenever 
> someone splits a dinosaur genus.                              
Some do, some don't.

However, even for those that do (in my opinion rightly) require monophyletic 
genera, they still regard dinosaurian genera as way
oversplit. So whereas most dinosaurian genera have only a single species, they 
would regard a genus as only really "useful" if it
encompassed several (where "several" could be "dozens" of) species.

In this practice, the idea of lumping all Centrosaurinae into Centrosaurus, all 
Tyrannosaurinae into Tyrannosaurus, and so forth
would be reasonable.

Again, this isn't actually a matter of the scientific understanding of the 
organisms. It is just (as Tim pointed out) a matter of
communication. There is no "genericometer" to determine when two "species" 
differ at the "genus" level.

Thomas R. Holtz, Jr.
Email: tholtz@umd.edu   Phone: 301-405-4084
Office: Centreville 1216                        
Senior Lecturer, Vertebrate Paleontology
Dept. of Geology, University of Maryland
Fax: 301-314-9661               

Faculty Director, Science & Global Change Program, College Park Scholars
Fax: 301-314-9843

Mailing Address:        Thomas R. Holtz, Jr.
                        Department of Geology
                        Building 237, Room 1117
                        University of Maryland
                        College Park, MD 20742 USA