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[dinosaur] Fwd: message for the dinosaur mailing list, re:Anyone else notice Tribelesodontidae has priority over Tanystropheidae?

---------- Forwarded message ---------
From: Kammerer, Christian F <christian.kammerer@naturalsciences.org>
Date: Mon, Aug 24, 2020 at 9:56 AM
Subject: message for the dinosaur mailing list, re:Anyone else notice Tribelesodontidae has priority over Tanystropheidae?
To: mickeyprowe@gmail.com <mickeyprowe@gmail.com>

Hello, apologies for the trouble, but I was recently forwarded a message from your Mailing List that I think has perpetuated a bit of misinformation about a Triassic reptile, and I was wondering if you could share this response.


Regarding the authorship of the family Tanystropheidae, Spiekman et al. (2020) are incorrect in their conclusions. Tanystropheidae is available from Gervais (1859; they are correct that it is not mentioned in his 1858 description of Aphelosaurus). Here is the relevant text from Gervais (1859, p. 485):

âNous avons dÃjà dit que les DolichosauridÃs, qui constituent lâune des families perdues dont ou trouve les dÃbris dans les formations secondaires, nâavaient point encore Ãtà observÃs en France, et quâil en est de mÃmes des IguanodontidÃs.


Plusieurs autres familles Ãteintes sont aussi dans le mÃme cas. Nous citerons les suivantes:


  1. Les LariosauridÃs, qui paraissent si analogues aux Simosauriens par leurs caractÃres anatomiques, mais qui sont de bien moindre dimension; leurs diffÃrents dÃbris connus ont Ãtà nommÃs Lariosaurus, Macromiosaurus et Pachypleura; on ne les connait quâen Italie.
  2. Les Dicynodontes de M. Owen, dont les ossements ont Ãtà rapportÃs de lâAfrique australe; ils avaient dâabord Ãtà attribuÃs, mais par erreur, aux terrains tertiaires.
  3. Les Rhynchosaures du mÃme auteur, qui sont propres aux terrains triasiques de lâAngleterre.
  4. Les ThÃcodontosaures et quelques autres Reptiles non moins curieux, qui paraissent devoir Ãtre classÃs dans un mÃme groupe naturel; on les a dÃcrits dâaprÃs quelques dents dÃcouvertes en Allemagne ou en Angleterre, dans les terrains pÃnÃens et triasiques.
  5. Les Tanystrophes, animaux gigantesques de lâÃpoque triasique dont M. de Meyer a dÃcrit plusieurs ossements originaires du muschelkalk de Bayreuth. Il est encore impossible de se faire une idÃe exacte de leurs affinitÃs et leur organisation parait avoir prÃsentà des particularitÃs tout à fait singuliÃres.
  6. Les Placodus, dÃcrit par M. Agassiz comme des Poissons, et qui sont rapportÃs aux Sauriens par. M. Owen.â


Roughly translated, this is:

âWe have already said that the dolichosaurids, which constitute one of the lost families whose remains are found in the Secondary formations, have not yet been observed in France, and that the same is true of iguanodontids.


Several other extinct families are the same case. We would cite the following:


  1. âLes LariosauridÃsâ, which seem analogous to simosaurs in their anatomical characters, but which are much smaller; their various known fossils have been named Lariosaurus, Macromiosaurus and Pachypleura; we only know of them in Italy.
  2. âLes Dicynodontesâ of Mr. Owen, the bones of which have been brought back from South Africa; they had initially been attributed, in error, to Tertiary beds.
  3. âLes Rhynchosauresâ of the same author, which are peculiar to the Triassic beds of England.
  4. âLes ThÃcodontosauresâ and a few other no less curious reptiles, which seem to form a natural grouping; they have been described from a few teeth discovered in Germany or England, in âPeneanâ (n.b. historical term for fossil-depauperate sedimentary beds) or Triassic beds.
  5. âLes Tanystrophesâ, gigantic animals of the Triassic Period, of which Mr. de Meyer described several bones originating from the Muschelkalk of Bayreuth. It is currently impossible to get an exact idea of their affinities and their anatomy seems to have been singularly peculiar.
  6. âLes Placodusâ, described by Mr. Agassiz as fish, and which have been related to reptiles by Mr. Owen.â


Two things are important to note here. 1. This is explicitly stated to be a list of extinct reptile families. 2. âLes Tanystrophesâ refers to a group of âgigantic animalsâ (plural), it is not merely conversion of the genus Tanystropheus into lay French.


Under The Code, this is enough to make Tanystropheidae available from Gervais (1859). The standard family suffix of â-idaeâ is not required for families pre-1900 (n.b. two of the other families listed above, Dicynodontidae and Rhynchosauridae, originated as Owenâs âfamiliesâ Dicynodontia and Rhynchosauria but are universally considered valid). Indeed, a near-identical case in Arachnida is given as an example of an available but non-latinized family name in the latest edition of The Code (ICZN, 1999):

âArt. 11.7.2. If a family-group name was published before 1900, in accordance with the above provisions of this Article but not in latinized form, it is available with its original author and date only if it has been latinized by later authors and has been generally accepted as valid by authors interested in the group concerned and as dating from that first publication in vernacular form.

Example. The mite family name TETRANYCHIDAE is generally attributed to Donnadieu, 1875. He published the name as "TÃtranycidÃs", but in view of the general acceptance of TETRANYCHIDAE from 1875 it is to be attributed to his work and date, not to Murray (1877), who first latinized it.â


As Gervaisâ âLes Tanystrophesâ was 1. Explicitly stated to be a family, 2. Based on a genus name considered valid at the time, and 3. Generally accepted as valid by subsequent authors (prior to Spiekman et al.), this satisfies all conditions for availability (diagnoses are not required for family names established pre-1931), and this name should be cited as Tanystropheidae Gervais, 1859. Tribelesodontidae Nopcsa, 1922 is a junior synonym.



Christian Kammerer


Christian F. Kammerer, PhD.

Research Curator of Paleontology

North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences

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