Thursday, April 1, 2010

Pickering's taxa 1: Megalosaurus phillipsi

As part of the reorganization of basal tetanurines on my site, I'm going through several taxa proposed by Stephen Pickering.  Pickering's certainly a character, as any dinosaur paleontologist who's been online in the last decade can tell you.  He has the manuscripts from Welles and Powell's European theropod study in the 70's which was never published, and he has distributed them in the form of privately printed papers sent to some of his colleagues.  This has the effect of keeping his work from most interested parties, since libraries or internet pages do not host it.  It seems there IS a good reason for ICZN Article 8a after all.  While I unfortunately don't have a copy of his 1995 or seemingly more useful 1999 works (though not for lack of trying), I do know which specimens his taxa are based on.  Thus we begin our journey into Pickeringdom...

"Megalosaurus" “phillipsi” Welles, Powell and Pickering vide Pickering, 1995
Kimmeridgian, Late Jurassic
Kimmeridgian Clay, England
Material- (OUM J29886) tibia (740 mm) (Huene, 1926)
....(OUM J13586) metatarsal II (360 mm), incomplete metatarsal III, incomplete metatarsal IV (Phillips, 1871)

Diagnosis- (from Pickering, DML 2002) cnemial crest more laterally angled.
(suggested) metatarsal II transversely narrower in proximal view; a wide lateral flare to the ventral rim of the lateral ligament pit on metatarsal II.

Other diagnoses- Pickering has listed his intended diagnosis for this species online (DML, 2002). Of his listed characters, the tibia does not seem noticably straighter in "phillipsi" than in Megalosaurus or Torvosaurus. The fibular crest begins at a similar position proximally. I cannot confirm the presence of a pit in the astragalar facet in M. bucklandii, and the "concavity of the distal end is wider" in Torvosaurus and "Brontoraptor" as well. The latter is also true of the medial malleolus, which "does not extend so far below the medial end." The tibia is equally robust in "Brontoraptor", Torvosaurus tanneri and T? sp. ML 430 from Portugal, which also share the transversely expanded lateral condyle. While the fibular crest extends more distally than in M. bucklandii, it does not do so more than "Brontoraptor" or ML 430.

Comments- OUM J29886 is intended as the holotype, though Huene (1926) felt they belonged to the same individual.

Phillips (1871) illustrated the metatarsus as Megalosaurus in figure 68. Huene (1926) later illustrated both the tibia and metatarsus as Megalosaurus bucklandi, incorrectly stating they derive from the Stonesfield Slate (Pickering, DML 2002). Huene also lists the metatarsals again as Megalosaurus sp. under entry 54 of his list, which also get listed as ?Megalosaurus sp. by him in 1932. Pickering (1995) first mentioned the name Megalosaurus phillipsi in an unpublished bibliographic manuscript. It was later used in the comparative section of another unpublished manuscript (Welles and Pickering, 1999). This paper was largely extracted from the European megalosaur manuscript Welles and Powell worked on in the 1970s but never published, specifically the Megalosaurus redescription section. Pickering intends to publish an updated version of the megalosaur manuscript as Mutanda Dinosaurologica, and has posted small excerpts including the diagnosis of "phillipsi" online (DML, 2002). In any case, the name is a nomen nudum as Pickering didn't follow ICZN Article 7 Recommendation 7a, Article 8a or Recommendation 8A. Curiously, Benson's (2010) recent redescription of Megalosaurus does not even mention the specimen, though it does lack the only character in his diagnosis of M. bucklandii for which it can be checked- complementary groove and ridge structures on the articular surfaces between metatarsals II and III.

Tibiae in anterior and proximal views of (from left to right) "Brontoraptor" (after Siegwarth et al., online), Portuguese Torvosaurus? sp. ML 430 (after Antuns and Mateus, 2003), Torvosaurus tanneri (after Britt, 1991), "Megalosaurus" "phillipsi" (after Huene, 1926), and Megalosaurus bucklandii (modified from Benson, 2010).

When entered into my saurischian supermatrix, "phillipsi" emerges in a polytomy with non-spinosaurid megalosauroids. This specimen will be compared to Megalosaurus bucklandii, Torvosaurus and "Brontoraptor" (note Pickering and Welles synonymized the first two at least), as it differs markedly from Eustreptospondylus (used as the outgroup comparison), while Magnosaurus and Dubreuillosaurus are too incomplete to be compared usefully and Afrovenator remains largely undescribed. Poekilopleuron differs in having a proximal corner on its medial malleolus and an astragalar facet that extends far up the medial edge of the tibia. As noted above in the 'other diagnoses' section, "phillipsi" apomorphically resembles Morrison megalosaurs and ML 430 more than Megalosaurus in being robust and having a transversely expanded lateral condyle. It apomorphically resembles "Brontoraptor" and ML 430 more in having a distally extending fibular crest, but is primitively more like Megalosaurus than any of these taxa in having a low angled medial malleolus. The proximodistally wide medial side to the astragalar facet is most similar to "Brontoraptor" and Torvosaurus, and the fibular crest lacks the apomorphically bulbous shape of Megalosaurus'. In proximal view, the incisura tibialis is plesiomorphically shallower than Megalosaurus as in Torvosaurus and "Brontoraptor", but the shape is plesiomorphically more similar to Megalosaurus than "Brontoraptor" in having a narrower cnemial crest and more posteriorly extensive medial condyle.

Left metatarsi in proximal, anterior and distal views of (from left to right) Torvosaurus tanneri (after Britt, 1991), "Megalosaurus" "phillipsi" (after Huene, 1926) and Megalosaurus bucklandii (after Benson, 2010).

Metatarsal II is of equal robusticity to Megalosaurus, unlike Torvosaurus' apomorphically massive element. It apomorphically shares the medial flare to the ventral rim of the collateral ligament pit with Torvosaurus though. It differs from both in being transversely narrower proximally and having a wide lateral flare to the ventral rim of the opposite collateral ligament pit. In proximal view, Megalosaurus and "phillipsi" both have a posterior concavity on metatarsal II, and share a convex anterior edge, as in the outgroup. Distally, it is primitively deeper than in either Megalosaurus or Torvosaurus. Metatarsal III is primitively more medially bowed than either, and is again less robust than Torvosaurus'. Proximally, metatarsal III is closer to Torvosaurus in having an apomorphic highly concave lateral margin and lacking the apomorphic sinuous medial margin of Megalosaurus. It has a primitively blunter posteromedial corner than either of them. Distally, the lateral condyle is apomorphically narrower as in Torvosaurus. Metatarsal IV has an apomorphically concave lateral edge as in Megalosaurus, unlike the sinusoidal edge of Torvosaurus. The distal shaft width is intermediate, and the articular end plesiomorphically expands transversely less than in Megalosaurus.
Ignoring the symplesiomorphies then, "phillipsi" shares five apomorphic states with Torvosaurus, and only one with Megalosaurus. It also shares these apomorphies with "Brontoraptor" and ML 430 where known, and shares the distally projecting fibular crest uniquely with those two specimens. I conclude Welles, Powell and Pickering were correct to refer "phillipsi" to their more inclusive version of Megalosaurus, but if Torvosaurus is separated as most modern workers do, it would be better referred to that genus. "Brontoraptor" has been recently assumed to be synonymous with Torvosaurus, and if so the features "phillipsi" shares with the former to the exclusion of the latter may be individual variation or incorrectly illustrated for "Brontoraptor". However, the fact Portuguese tibia ML 430 has the same characters suggests this may not be the case. Whether ML 430 should be referred to "phillipsi" is an interesting question, as they are both from Late Jurassic Europe. While the distally extensive fibular crest might suggest so, the broadly flared medial malleolus and laterally straight lateral malleolus of ML 430 resemble Torvosaurus more, while the medially narrow astragalar facet is more like Megalosaurus than any torvosaur. Both "phillipsi" and ML 430 are best referred to Torvosauridae.

References- Phillips, 1871. Geology of Oxford and the Valley of the Thames. Clarendon Press, Oxford.

Huene, 1926. The carnivorous Saurischia in the Jura and Cretaceous formations, principally in Europe. Revista del Museo de La Plata. 29, 35-167.

Huene, 1932. Die fossile Reptil-Ordnung Saurischia, ihre Entwicklung und Geschichte. Monographien zur Geologie und Palaeontologie. 4(1), viii + 361 pp.

Pickering, 1995. Jurassic Park: Unauthorized Jewish Fractals in Philopatry. A Fractal Scaling in Dinosaurology Project, 2nd revised printing. Capitola, California. 478 pp.

Welles and Pickering, 1999. Megalosaurus bucklandii. Private publication of Stephen Pickering. An extract from Archosauromorpha: Cladistics & Osteologies. A Fractal Scaling in Dinosaurology Project. 119 pp.

Benson, 2010. A description of Megalosaurus bucklandii (Dinosauria: Theropoda) from the Bathonian of the UK and the relationships of Middle Jurassic theropods. Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society. DOI 10.1111/j.1096-3642.2009.00569.x

Pickering, in prep. Mutanda Dinosaurologica.


  1. You know, technically speaking these "papers" are not scientifically viable, right? Pickering has failed to put these print outs of his into a published form that agrees with the ICZN despite prompting, arguing personally (on the DML) that he is permitted to keep them from certain persons.

    Treating anything he comes up with this sort of credibility (such as his unpublished nomenclature) is to lend his print outs the credibility he claims they have.

  2. Well that's why they're nomina nuda and I call them unpublished manuscripts. This doesn't mean their contents lack credibility though, especially as they are largely Welles' and Powell's work. Actually, while Benson has done excellent work on several of the relevant taxa, I think he should have mentioned Welles'/Powell's/Pickering's work and names. I'm never a fan of pretending something doesn't exist, no matter how unofficial, and it can lead to confusion in the future when people have heard of Pickering's names and not realized the specimens have been addressed in the literature since.

  3. Well, I wouldn't even go so far as calling them nomina nuda. They aren't published, and citing them as printed works seems the level required to suggest that merely depositing them in an institutuon would make them "published works" according to the ICZN. As you and I both know, Pickering refuses to even go that far, so has no excuse for pretending his work is "published" to the ICZN's muster, and the nomina he would have available similarly unavailable (even for citation!).

    It's good enough to see what you're doing, but you lend the works legitimacy by treating them as refutable in this manner.

  4. You have enunciated cogent revisions of my mss. (ALL published segments were peer reviewed, page-by-page, by Sam Welles in the presence of my late wife and I). Contra 'Qilong' et al., many of these WERE self-published in limited editions (copies provided to Tracy Ford and George Olshevsky), including Walkersaurus hesperis, which has priority over Benson's taxa. Thus, for 'Qilong' (who has never published anything) to claim they were not 'printed' is a rhetorical flourish: these were printed on paper, bound, distributed in limited editions; they remain printed, physical objects, not reifications in quantum foam. I do not know why Roger Benson didn't mention our work, as page after page of his work, thus far, echoes in several respects Sam Welles's preliminary findings and extrapolations (and his photographs of ALL of the specimens, which I have + negatives).I deeply appreciate your thorough analyses, Mickey, and will ignore 'Qilong''s meaningless paradigms.
    STEPHAN PICKERING / Chofetz Chayim ben-Avraham

  5. Why haven't you published them in a peer reviewed journal?

    Seems like a waste of Samuel Welles's legacy... it would make for an excellent monograph series, don't you think?

  6. Benson may not have mentioned Duriavenator because the manuscript for his paper on M. bucklandii predates the manuscript for his paper on Duriavenator (refer to the manuscript submission dates).

    Sorry Stephan, Duriavenator has priority over "Walkersaurus". If you wanted Welles' names to have any taxonomic validity, you should have published them in a peer-reviewed journal. End of the story.

  7. "...peer-reviewed journal. End of the story"...this comment is in need of serious revision and/or retraction. It has no bearing on scientific dialogue. Self-publication is an art, championed, among others, by my friend and colleague George Olshevsky, whose various taxa ARE valid. As you have never published in any forum, your comment is akin to using Wite-Out on one's computer screen. As a free-lance dinosaurologist, I do not solicit, nor need, your 'peer' reviewing. The 'monograph series' is, in actuality, one large, copiously illustrated, in-progress volume. What I find ironic, indeed, is that Sam's mss. is being plundered without attribution in England, then hidden in obfuscations that the mss. was not consulted for fear of 'muddying' the waters, as it were. What nonsense. Sam had carefully described the specimens then known to him, with magnificant photographs (in my archive) and drawings. To say that one is presenting a 'new' analysis of the Megalosaurus hypdogims without knowledge of the Sam mss. (a copy of which is at OUM), is a deliberate, knowing distortion of scientific ethics. My original Megalosaurus monograph, published (and carefully 'peer' reviewed by Sam) without your silly nonsense, stands on its own.
    Kol tuv uv'racha.
    Stephan Pickering / Chofetz Chayim ben-Avraham
    The Dinosaur Fractals Project

  8. "As you have never published in any forum, your comment is akin to using Wite-Out on one's computer screen."

    I have published more than you ever have, I assure you. ;)

  9. "..this comment is in need of serious revision and/or retraction. It has no bearing on scientific dialogue. "

    Your various papers have no bearing on the scientific dialogue as they are poorly distributed, and not widely available. How can you expect people to reference your work if you've never submitted to a journal that is publicly accessible?

    further, I'd argue because you never submitted your work to peer-review, your comments per your manuscripts have not been put to any serious scrutiny by others...

  10. so why should we trust or reference them?

  11. Oooh, my first comment war. ;) Hi Stephen, thanks for commenting. I agree in part with both sides. I think that Benson not mentioning "Walkersaurus" was unfortunate, since now people will have a harder time equating it with Duriavenator. On the other hand, I'll note even Olshevsky considers your taxa to be nomina nuda, as seen on his Dinosaur Genera List website. The fact they're publically unavailable is a big reason. I recall you refused to send me the megalosaur paper from 1999 for instance. Oh, and if you do revise your Mutanda Dinosaurologica MS to include my observations, I'd appreciate it if they were cited as being mine. "Metriacanthosaurus" "reynoldsi" coming soon, and no it doesn't seem to be Metriacanthosaurus...

  12. I'd like to note that Olshevsky will treat as "nomina nuda" (and technical "published") names that appear in theses, even those that are regarded as unpublished by 1) their authors, 2) their institutions produced in, or 3) virtually any reputable scientist.

    This simultaneously involves a few issues, which I'd like to show makes this argument indefensible:

    A. When does a name written in a thesis becomes "published"? The time the work is "made," the time it's submitted to the dissertation review committee, accepted by them, or the time the thesis is regarded as being completed for the sake of its part in the new doctor's work for his/her degree. These issues are not required to be solved, because even the ICZN didn't regard the existence of the thesis until the fourth edition, under which it specifically disregards nomenclature in them.

    B. Were a thesis to exist, a name in it would be potentially citable, but were the thesis "hidden," or the author/institution withheld it (some institutions treat their theses this way, and retain ownership of the thesis, while others allow the authors to release the information) the names would be "published," but secret. This flies in the face of capital-S Science well-done.

    So Olshevsky's treatment of any name printed or seen as viable makes his list less useful than you may think.

  13. We've been over this plenty of times Jaime, but I consider the term "nomen nudum" to be the basic equivalent of "unofficial" in the sense that neither has a bottom boundary of worthlessness. Nor will you find such a boundary in the ICZN. Does it break a single rule, like Pickering's? Nomen nudum. Was it something I made up on the spot now and jotted on my blog? Nomen nudum. You can argue over the usefulness of Olshevsky's cut-off for what he bothers to keep track of, but it's his list. As to your questions-

    A. The same one that's cited in bibliographies for them.

    B. Yeah, that'd suck, but that's one reason theses aren't accepted by the ICZN.

  14. Stephan PickeringApril 7, 2010 at 5:35 PM

    Mickey: I have profound respect for you personally, and for your efforts here: this is what I consider dinosaur science at the 'high table'. Thus far, your observations are quite interesting, although hampered by the fact, of course, I have the mss. and you don't. Using Benson to second-guess what Sam Welles (and I, with his collaborative encouragement) inferred from direct examinations of all of the specimens (coupled with photographs, as well, Sam giving them to me as a wedding present 30 January 1984), which he then put on paper in detailed osteological comparisons -- well, you discern the difficulty. For example, Sam synonymized Torvosaurus into Megalosaurus, which I follow(ed). You do not have my revised mss.; sometime within the next year, I'll return to it, and update it. Faline, my beloved wife perished in my arms from small-cell carcinoma, 1:10 a.m., 24 August 2008. And so, my research priorities have shifted gears significantly: most of my work since 2008 has focused on kabbalistic paradigms, dating back to the mid-1970s when I pursued rabbinic studies. I work on the dinosaurs when the mood strikes me. At any rate. My Walkersaurus has published priority over Duriavenator by a few years. Copies of what I have published are in Tracy Ford's collection, and, last year, I made copies of these same documents for George Olshevsky (for the second time; including Walkersaurus). To thwart Tim Williams's continuing (often slanderous) non-sense and deliberate lying (some of his comments re: George and Tracy are outrageous; they show the maturity of ignoring him), I sent copies to him on the advice of an attorney -- the material came back to me weeks later, because the mailing address he provided was a fake. Tim Williams, if he is the 'Anonymous' above, has never published in 'peer-reviewed' journals except when someone else has done the research, formulated the experiments, and his name is included in a list of contributors. His papers, when his name is listed first, remain worthless and quickly forgotten.

    I provided what printing receipts I have for publishing to George Olshevsky.

    And so. I ignore 'Qilongia' et al...they forget that Sam Welles carefully examined all of the mss. (And the comments of 'Anonymous' above re: publishing are without merit. This isn't an ego contest of 'gotcha' politics. We are talking, Mickey, about a subject that has been integral to my life since 1954, and which brought Sam and I together before his 1984 monograph on Dilophosaurus.

    I apologise, Mickey, for the length of this communication (by the way, my name legally has been 'Stephan' since 1975). If our schedules can intersect, you are perfectly welcome to personally come here and, without any equivocations on my part, photocopy my in-progress ms. This will give you an insight into work you do not have. I do not have the finances, since Faline perished, to photocopy it myself for you. My only request, to be sure, is that you do not make copies of it to Tim Williams, Qilongia, et al.

    Again, Mickey, thank you.
    Kol tuv uv'racha.
    STEPHAN / Chofetz Chayim ben-Avraham

  15. Stephan, I apologize for misspelling your name, though it might amuse you to know I did the same to Benson's a few posts ago. Dinosaur names I can handle, peoples' names apparently not. I am sorry to hear about your wife and can certainly relate to priorities shifting and low finances. However, I'll also note that this is one of the reasons the ICZN instituted Article 8A. These kind of personal misfortunes cannot befall the great number of university libaries that exist which receive issues of most journals (nor the Internet which is fast becoming the repository of choice, ICZN be damned). I'll probably ask Tracy for copies of the 1999 works next time I use his services, though notice even he has your taxa as nomina nuda on his Paleofile site, despite possessing copies of your work. Thank you for the offer to visit your home, but as much as I would be interested to see Mutanda Dinosaurologica, I'm unlikely to have the finances to travel to California in the near future. Finally, while I would likely be too busy to scan any of your longer writings for Jaime or Tim (who is not anonymous; and both of who are friends of mine), I'll state that your desire to exclude others from owning/reading your work "flies in the face of capital-S Science well-done."

  16. Stephan PickeringApril 10, 2010 at 9:50 PM

    I shall be posting here: first some corrections to your dismissal of Megalosaurus phillipsi, which Sam Welles carefully analysed for several weeks both in England and at UCMP before writing his taxon. With his help, I went over the pages, and updated it, and I shall, here, present excerpts of our comparative osteology of the hypodigm.

    Second: I shall present here the complete hypodigm of Metriacanthosaurus brevis, with our original diagnosis. Some of your comments I disagree with, but this is a matter of interpretation of specimens. I do not accept Benson/Day & Barrett as the final arbiters of the hypodigms involved. If necessary, I can buttress the diagnosis with excerpts from the comparative osteology. Sam Welles spent over 12 years carefully studying the data, and I studied it with him up to late 1989. M. brevis, like M. reynoldsi, is a Metriacanthosaurus.

    Also, I shall post here the hypodigm of Megalosaurus bucklandii Mantell 1827 (all of the specimens are from Stonesfield except OUM J29765, the lower end of a right scapule from Enslow Bridge).

    What irritates me is the perpetation of mythologies. "Magnosaurus" is NOT a valid name, and is NOT Megalosaurus nethercombensis von Huene 1923 (we analyzed this taxon, as well, with photographs of all of the hypodigm). Megalosaurus nethercombensis is a Megalosaurus. The problem is with von Huene's confusing nomenclature. von Huene (1932:51-52) applied the name Sarcosaurus andrewsi to BMNH R3542. This SAME tibia is given yet a second name in the same paper Magnosaurus woodwardi(1932:219). Thus, the genus name "Magnosaurus" is based on BMNH R3542, and Sarcosaurus woodi = Sarcosaurus andrewsi BMNH R3542 = Magnosaurus woodwardi BMNH R3542. The confusion is FURTHER complicated yet again by von Huene (1932:220) when the name "Magnosaurus" is given to Megalosaurus lydekkeri von Huene 1926, a nomen vanum based on a nondiagnostic theropod tooth BMNH 41352, AHD is SIMULTANEOUSLY by von Huene considered a "n.g." for Megalosaurus nethercombensis... AND at the end of his convulsive, short discussion is also a "subgenus" of Megalosaurus Buckland 1824.

    Sarcosaurus Andrews 1921
    = Magnosaurus von Huene 1932 nomen dubium
    Sarcosaurus woodi Andrews 1921 BMNH R4840 (cranial half of a cranial dorsal vertebra, ilia, pubes, right ischium)/R4841, left femur.
    Referred specimen: Sarcosaurus andrewsi von Huene 1932 BMNH R3542/Magnosaurus woodwardi von Huene 1932 BMNH R3542

    STEPHAN PICKERING / Chofetz Chayim ben-Avraham
    The Dinosaur Fractals Project

  17. Pickering also regularly spams any and all paleontology-related mailing lists he can find with dinosaur-related abstracts from scientific journals...including regular posts to a group devoted specifically to fossil mammals. When confronted on this latter point, he spewed some drivel about 'all paleontological research being related', thus justifying his spam. Seems he's the new 'Archimedes Plutonium' of the paleontology mailing list world.

  18. I would like to see the fossils directly. I have never found this fossil on my anthropology book. I would like to read the info here to up date my knowledge. keep posting friends, this is very helpful for me.

  19. omg what a poser...pickering is a poser...who steals from others and claims they are his