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Re: Paleozoic tetrapod papers

As a disclaimer, I'd like to point out that this is a very nice paper
focused on a very interesting critter (_Scapanops_).  This
nomenclature stuff in no way detracts from this.  However, naming
conventions are becoming increasingly fraught as the ICZN Code
struggles to adapt to phylogenetic taxonomy, and the
Cacopinae/Eucacopinae issue is a case in point.

Ben Creisler <bcreisler@gmail.com> wrote:

> Evidently the paper is phylogenetic and non-Linnean (per personal
> communication), so the ICZN nomenclatural rules for forming ranked
> names above the generic level are not recognized. This allows the
> authors to propose Eucacopinae as a clade that looks like a
> "subfamily" (with an -inae ending) but really is not, and does not
> need to follow ICZN rules and recommendations.

If that's the case, and the new name is not really a family-group
name, then the ICZN principal of homonymy does not apply.  Therefore,
the authors could have named the clade Cacopinae after all.

Recall that the authors actually state that they named the clade
Eucacopinae rather than Cacopinae because "Noble (1931) already used
Cacopinae for a group of frogs."  The implication is that Cacopinae
was preoccupied.  But (according to the authors) the new name was not
covered by the ICZN Code, so this replacement was unnecessary.  Naming
and defining a new clade Cacopinae would also be okay under PhyloCode,
because the earlier Cacopinae (Noble, 1931) has no phylogenetic
definition.  (And it's unlikely to ever receive one, in light of
Cacopinae being a junior synonym of Microhylinae.)

David Marjanovic <david.marjanovic@gmx.at> wrote:

> ~:-| For the exact same reason. Why is it worse to have two clades called 
> *Cacops* than two called *Cacopinae*?

That's a fair question.  IMHO, a binomen should be unique for every
species.  But the original Cacopinae (Noble, 1931) was never defined,
so it can be ignored (see above).  Further, the original Cacopinae,
named for a subfamily of microhylid frogs, is not used any more AFAIK.

> 1) Weight of tradition;

Tradition schmadition.  Retaining a tradition solely because it's
traditional is a circular argument.

> 2) lack of alternatives -- we're working on implementing the ICPN 
> ("PhyloCode"), but we're not there yet. Having _a_ code of nomenclature is 
> generally better than having none at all.

Agreed.  But having the ICZN hold sway over any clade that appears to
be a family-group name (because it ends in -idae, or -inae) is
problematic.  I'd prefer the ICZN stick to genera and species, and let
PhyloCode govern all clades (including phylogenetic definitions of
genera and species).  As you point out, clade names such as
Microraptoria and Turiasauria studiously avoid family-group suffixes
in order to avoid ICZN entanglements.