Saturday, October 15, 2011

Theropoda in the Amazing Year 2100

One of my pet peeves is the cavalier attitude many dinosaur paleontologists have recently in regard to the priority and validity of old taxa.  Whether it's lazy dismissal of genera as nomina dubia without an analysis showing this is true, dumping family-level names based on supposed nomina dubia despite the ICZN having no rules about this, making up new definitions for established clades, or just plain old replacement of clade names because the eponymous genus isn't as complete or deeply nested as another.  If this trend continues, we may face the following horrifying vision of the future...

- Coelophysoidea (based on a complete neotype for Coelophysis bauri, the only known material for the first 66 years having been ignored as archosaur scrap; IT'S ALREADY TRUE!)
- Sinodilophosauridae (people still refuse to use Dilophosauridae, but the describers of what was originally Dilophosaurus sinensis came up with their own name for this clade)
- Averostra (because enough people misused Bakker's Neotheropoda so that they forgot he created it for this node and started using a term published 16 years later instead)
-- Ceratosauria
--- Majungasauroidea (Abelisaurus was deemed too fragmentary, and Carnotaurus is still only known from one specimen. Majungasaurus itself is now based on a complete neotype found in 2068)
---- Masiakasauridae
---- Majungasauridae
-- Tetanuriformes (someone finally got enough followers after redefining Tetanurae to be less inclusive, thus Tetanurae has different meanings depending on what year a paper was published)
--- Suchomimia
---- Tayntonsauridae (after a incomplete articulated megalosaur was found in Megalosaurus' type beds, it was named to 'solve' the confusion surrounding Megalosaurus' association.  All Megalosaurus remains were then referred to Tayntonsaurus)
---- Suchomimidae (Yes, ignoring Spinosauridae, Baryonychidae, Irritatoridae and Cristatusaurus)
--- Tetanurae
----Sinraptoroidea (after Allosaurus fragilis was shown to be a nomen dubium, people incorrectly said a family level name couldn't be based on it)
----- Sinraptoridae (no comment needed)
----- Neoallosauridae (people declared Allosaurus, Labrosaurus, Creosaurus and Epanterias to be undiagnostic in a footnote of the paper describing Big Al as Neoallosaurus in 2035)
----- Carcharodontosauria
------ Neovenatoridae
------ Acrocanthosauridae
------ Shaochilongidae
------ Tyrannotitanidae
------ Carcharodontosauridae (ignoring the stable stem-based definition of Carcharodontosauridae, people kept redefining it to be less and less inclusive)
---- Tyrannosauroidea (despite including the following two families, both named prior to Tyrannosauridae...)
----- Coeluridae
----- Compsognathidae
----- Tyrannosauridae
---- Avesternes (someone named it in 2019 and people started to ignore Maniraptoriformes)
----- Ornithomimosauria (based on a neotype for Ornithomimus edmontonicus, even though O. velox was the type species and brevitertius has priority over edmontonicus)
----- Eunothronychia (Therizinosauria was defeated the same way it gained usage, once graffami was given its own genus)
----- Citipatia (Oviraptor was too fragmentary, so the clade was renamed once Citipati's holotype was fully described in 2023. IGM 100/42 remains undescribed and called the Zamyn Kondt oviraptorid as of 2100)
----- Bimedicamentodontidae (Troodon is a long forgotten name, and no the family hasn't been subdivided yet despite there being 73 described diagnostic genera)
----- Dromaeosauridae (miraculously unaffected, but Barsbold's estate owns Adasaurus, which no one is allowed to circulate holograms of)
----- Shuvuuiformes (because of... well, you get the drift by now)
----- Birdia (we finally got sick of the semantic arguments)

Only you can prevent this terrifying prediction from becoming reality.  Support priority, follow the ICZN until another code is viable (the Phylocode remains unofficial as of 2100, but rumors are Phylonyms is almost complete and that it will start as of 1-1-21xx), and remember a named taxon is valid until shown otherwise by a detailed redescription and comparison.


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. You're clearly not going extreme enough. You need a new "family" (whatever that is) for each "genus" (whatever that is) in the entirety of Theropoda, then rename Theropoda because it's not really mammalian, and then go even further and just make up a new name for every other taxon in it.

    Seriously, if you want to go over the deep end on this, there are far worse paths to take.

    Keeping names based on incomparable crap doesn't help.

  3. It's funny because it'll be true.
    Don'f forget Mortimeriida for all theropods closer to Tyrannosaurus than Diplodocus... yes, theropods by old extinct definition...

  4. This is hilariously depressing :D Poor Zamyn Kondt can't catch a break!

    I know it's considered poor form to name stuff out from under living folks, but seriously somebody should ninja-name that and "Ingenia" and get it the hell over with.

  5. "Birdia" really should exist.

  6. "Birdia" is too English-centric for being accepted by the non-speaking-english-scientists.

  7. Jaime- But the monotypic family thing is really only an issue in Chinese paleontology, not modern dinosaur paleontology as a whole. And Paul's attempt to "rename" Theropoda Avepoda failed, so I don't see that as a realistic problem for the future.

    Matt- Oh don't worry, in 2045 the name Ingeniraptor was used in the fifth edition of The Encyclopedia of Dinosaurs, then it was used shortly afterward in the fifth edition of The Dinosauria, when it became officially followed. Not that a full description had been published yet...

    Mike- Quite right.

    As an aside, I'm awaiting/dreading seeing these names in supposedly real lists written by naive internet dinosaur fans. Avesternes anonymous, 2019 vide Mortimer, 2011...

  8. If I were to "ninja" name either the Zaymn Kond oviraptorid or "Ingenia", how much crap would I receive from the public and the professionals?

  9. In 2100 everybody speaks Mandarin.

  10. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  11. I was wonder what ever happened to Stephen Pickering and his papers he claims he wrote with Welles from Berkley. Has anyone seen them or heard from Mr. Pickering. I would be interested in knowing.

  12. Look, I don't mind if anonymous people fill up the old Pickering threads with crap about him, but I'd rather have commenters stay on topic for new threads. Thanks.

  13. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  14. Also, Becklespinax was declared a nomen dubium in a paper describing a new specimen of Concavenator, which also conveniently assigned it to "Concavenator sp."

    Meanwhile, regarding ceratopsians, several new taxa have been named* from specimens long assigned to older genera, including Eocentrosaurus brinkmani, Pseudocentrosaurus nasicornis, Chasmoceratops russeli, and Allopachyrhinus lakustai. This continues the tradition started with things like Titanoceratops and Vagaceratops.

    *I don't want anyone to take these as actually meaning anything

  15. I love some of the items in this list.

    If I were to "ninja" name either the Za[my]n K[h]ond oviraptorid or "Ingenia", how much crap would I receive from the public and the professionals?

    Oh, lots, but the names would nonetheless be valid (unless the ICZN suddenly said "u no can has", which would be uncharacteristic of them).

    Simply do it under a pseudonym and fool editors & reviewers into believing it's your real name.

    (...Or organize donations of money to Mongolian paleontology. That should work, too.)

  16. dinosaurs are not birds only had scales