Monday, July 24, 2017

Theropod Database pilfered again? Teihivenator edition

Back when I was sorting through obscure theropod species, I noticed the case of "Laelaps" macropus.  Ignored for almost a century, I examined the syntypes at the AMNH and wrote the first substantive comparison and diagnosis on The Theropod Database back in 2009.  Eight years later, and I see Yun (2017) has published a paper on the specimen and named it Teihivenator.  Well, it's good someone finally did something with the taxon, except....

My proposed diagnosis- "lateral tibial malleolus at same level as medial malleolus; paired proximoventral processes on pedal phalanges II-1 and III-2."
Yun's last two characters in his diagnosis- "lateral malleolus is at same level as medial malleolus; paired ventral processes proximally on all preserved pedal phalanges."

My materials list- "... distal tibia (100 mm wide)
....(AMNH 2551) phalanx II-1 (109 mm), phalanges III-2 (93, 96 mm)"
Yun's discussion- "and distal ends of a tibia (Fig. 1A, C), about 100 mm wide.
... Phalanx II-1 is about 109 mm long, and each phalanges III-2 are about 93, 96 mm long."
And no, these aren't measurements from the literature, they're from my photos with scale bar taken at the AMNH. Hmm...

My discussion- "The material is tyrannosauroid based on the anterior process of the lateral tibial condyle..."
Yun's- "the material clearly belongs to tyrannosauroid based on the presence of the anterior process on the lateral tibial condyle.
Me- "All phalanges are ... more robust than similar-sized ornithomimids (e.g. Gallimimus' holotype)."
Yun- "Also, preserved pedal phalanges are much more robust than similarly sized ornithomimosaurs..."
Me- "The proximal metatarsal is II, and has a sharper posterior corner, more rounded anteromedial corner and shallower lateral notch than Alectrosaurus, Appalachiosaurus and Tyrannosaurus."
Yun- "The posterior corner is more narrow and triangular compared to other derived tyrannosauroids, and the medial corner is more rounded. The notch for metatarsal III is much shallower than most tyrannosauroids."

Some syntypes of "Teihivenator" macropus.  Top left- proximal metatarsal II AMNH 2553. Top right- distal metatarsal IV AMNH 2552. Bottom- proximal and distal tibiae AMNH 2550.  Courtesy of the AMNH.

I want to make clear that this isn't a hack job like Easter's "Ajancingenia" copy-paste nonsense.  Yun came up with quite a few features of his own and his own conclusion, that macropus is closer to tyrannosaurids than Dryptosaurus and thus deserves a new genus name.  But I think it's inarguable Yun used the Database for information, but did not cite it or myself in the Acknowledgements.

There's "good" news though!   As noted by Marjanovic on the DML, the name is not valid because there was no physical publication or ZooBank registration.  So here's my proposal to Yun- Add me as a second author for a brief follow-up paper, we can correct a few things like -venator being Latin as opposed to Greek, add my high res photos from the AMNH to give the genus a proper illustrative debut, and with a ZooBank registration make it official.  Deal?

[Edit- When I wrote this, I was unaware of Brownstein's preprint placed online today arguing macropus is a chimaera of tyrannosaur and ornithomimosaur specimens.  While I haven't had a chance to study the chimaera issue, Brownstein does provide detailed descriptions and high resolution photographs, so that I don't think any further contribution by myself is necessary.  So, uh, proposal retracted.  Though if Yun does publish a corrective paper with ZooBank registry, I would like to be in the acknowledgements.  Man, that story changed fast.

Brownstein, 2017. Theropod specimens from the Navesink Formation and their implications for the diversity and biogeography of ornithomimosaurs and tyrannosauroids on Appalachia. PeerJ Preprints. 5:e3105v1.]

[Edit #2- News continues to fly in.  As McCabe commented on below, Yun has left feedback on another preprint of Brownstein's indicating he thought the macropus syntypes were lost, though he really should have mentioned this in his paper.  Creisler also informed me via the DML that Yun registered the genus on ZooBank, but without a mention of this in the paper itself it still violates ICZN Article 8.5.3 (a name must "be registered in the Official Register of Zoological Nomenclature (ZooBank) (see Article 78.2.4) and contain evidence in the work itself that such registration has occurred.").  Thus a corrigendum is still necessary, which Yun's been informed of.  Whew.  This is going to be a messy Database entry to write...]

Reference- Yun, 2017. Teihivenator gen. nov., a new generic name for the tyrannosauroid dinosaur "Laelaps" macropus (Cope, 1868; preoccupied by Koch, 1836). Journal of Zoological and Bioscience Research. 4(2), 7-13.


  1. A few relevant things you might not have seen yet:

    This PeerJ preprint ( isn't peer-reviewed, but it does have discussion on the validity of _Teihivenator_; the feedback section has discussion on the name validity situation. Apparently there's a plan for a lectotype designation.

    Likewise, here ( the author of the _Teihivenator_ paper appears in the feedback section (you might be able to contact him through PeerJ, then) and clarifies the Zoobank situation and the background surrounding the paper. He also mentions the Theropod Database, albeit for unrelated reasons, so he definitely uses it as a resource.

    1. Oh, well it appears the post was edited while I was sorting out posting the comment. As long as you're aware, I guess?

    2. Thanks for the heads up. I hadn't seen either discussion, so that was useful. It's good to see Brownstein's on the case and aware of the lectotype issue, so it should all get sorted out. This is a pretty clear case of a failure of peer review in the Journal of Zoological and Bioscience Research.

  2. Greetings,

    I am the author of Teihivenator paper.

    Actually, some measurements of Teihivenator specimens are mentioned in literatures such as Cope (1870) and Gallagher provided a picture of whole specimens, with a scale bar nearby them. All the measurements/and morphotypes provided in my paper were inferred from Leidy (1865), Cope (1870), Gallagher (1997).

    Hope this helps.

    Chan-gyu Yun

  3. Also, I cited theropod database in acknowledgements when I use their infos or consult them.

    e.g. Changyu YUN (2016) A review of the basal tyrannosauroids (Saurischia: Theropoda) of the Jurassic Period. Volumina Jurassica 14(1): 159-164. DOI: 10.5604/01.3001.0009.4021

  4. Another proof, Mickey, that much of your work is worthy of being published in peer-reviewed journals. *prod* *prod*

    BTW, it's not just the "Greek". The Arapaho needs some work, too: "strong" isn't teihi-, it's apparently téí'- (high tone, glottal stop at the end of the root)... and why Arapaho in the first place for a dinosaur from New Jersey?

    Actually, some measurements of Teihivenator specimens are mentioned in literatures such as

    And after all the necessary conversion (I doubt Cope used millimeters in 1870! Probably twelfths of an inch or some such nonsense.) you still came up with the exact same values? That's hard to believe.

    What's impossible to believe is that you came up with such similar wording in such a similar order as in the examples above. You have committed plagiarism. If any part of the "Teihivenator" material is diagnostic, Mickey will almost certainly have to be a coauthor.

    e.g. Changyu YUN (2016)

    You used the Theropod Database in the new paper, so you had to cite it in the new paper. That should be obvious.

  5. Oh, I still haven't heard if the Journal of Zoological and Bioscience Research has a paper edition. If it does, the name will be validly published, and the ZooBank registration is irrelevant. If it doesn't, a new paper will be required – if any of the specimens can in fact serve as a lectotype in the first place.

  6. This, like the "Ajacingenia affair" are among the reasons I have stopped publishing my most significant results/considerations/hypotheses in the blog before a formal publication.

  7. Actually from what I can tell the Journal of Zoological and Bioscience Research appears to be published from a journal mill. It is headquartered from a postal box in Canada, yet not one of the editorial or management staff are based out of Canada.

  8. In my opinion, if the name is not currently validly published, I would prefer to see an alternate name that is published in a journal that will have a print edition and is properly constructed from the language which it has been derived.

    Here is a Lenape dictionary:

    Here are some pages on Lenape mythology:

  9. As others have stated (perhaps more diplomatically) the actual name (Teihivenator) is a complete mess - a total dog's breakfast. But there are larger concerns here. If the journal in question is a fake journal, then this is very disappointing. Further, if there is plagiarism involved, this is downright unethical - the manuscript should be retracted (if it's possible to retract a manuscript from a fake journal).

    Overall, this highlights the perils of the 'gray literature'. I understand the temptation to describe (or re-describe) dinosaurs in ways that avoid the rigors of peer-reviewed scientific journals. But this 'Teihivenator' situation shows how things should *not* be done.

    1. The journal does claim to use peer review – double-blind even. There's no mention of a way to circumvent or expediate the process.

  10. An open science paradigm shift would clear issues like this right up. As well as taking care of figures like David Peters.