Tetrapod Zoology

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In the previous post we introduced the aetosaurs, a strange and fascinating group of armour-plated quadrupedal Triassic crurotarsans. Equipped with stout limbs, a strange upturned snout and (usually) toothless jaw tips, aetosaurs have been interpreted as omnivores, herbivores, and even as armadillo-like generalists. But it’s not just their lifestyles that have been the subject of controversy. By following the publication dates of various recent technical papers on these animals, it seems that some aetosaur workers themselves have been acting in a controversial manner…

Aetosaur fossils were first documented by Louis Agassiz (1807-1873) in 1844, although the Stagonolepis specimen that he described was misinterpreted by him as an armoured fish. While aetosaur research has a long and noble history, study of the group has undergone something of a renaissance in recent years, as is the case with so many groups of Mesozoic reptile. Accordingly, a large number of new aetosaur genera have been named since the 1980s, including Paratypothorax Long & Ballew, 1985, Longosuchus Hunt & Lucas, 1990, Redondasuchus Hunt & Lucas, 1991, Lucasuchus Long & Murry, 1995, Acaenasuchus Long & Murry, 1995, Coahomasuchus Heckert & Lucas, 1999 and Tecovasuchus Martz & Small, 2006, though not all of these taxa are accepted by all aetosaur workers. Several additional taxa await naming and description [the scene at the top, depicting a sunny day in the Late Triassic, shows an aetosaur, some dicynodonts and a basal dinosaur. I don't know who the artist was (thought it might be Peter Snowball, but it ain't), image from here].

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New species have also been named within long-recognised genera. Desmatosuchus is a particularly large and robust aetosaur, first named by Ermine Cowles Case (1871-1953) in 1920, but originally described by E. D. Cope (1840-1897) in 1892 as Episcoposaurus. Until recently the only recognised species was D. haplocerus, famous for the large recurved spikes that grow off its cervical osteoderms [shown in adjacent image, borrowed from here], but a second species, D. chamaensis, was named in 2003 and a third, D. smalli, was named in 2005. It is that second species, D. chamaensis, that has caused all the problems…

In 2003, Kate Zeigler and colleagues from the New Mexico Museum of Natural History (NMMNH) named a new aetosaur species from the Chinle Formation (= Petrified Forest Formation of Zeigler et al.’s usage) of the Snyder Quarry at Rio Arriba County, New Mexico (as explained by Parker (2007), Zeigler et al.’s paper is dated 2002 but was not published until Spring 2003). This material was not new, but in fact had been mentioned several times in the literature prior to 2003.

Identifying the osteoderms of the Snyder Quarry aetosaur as similar to those of Desmatosuchus haplocerus, the NMMNH team referred this species to that genus, naming it D. chamaensis. They differentiated it from D. haplocerus on the presence of a recurved spike on the paramedian osteoderm (in D. haplocerus no spike is present: instead there is a bump), on the gracile shape of the spikes on the lateral osteoderms (in D. haplocerus the same spikes are more robust), and on the gracile cervical osteoderms (in D. haplocerus the cervical osteoderms are, again, more robust) (Zeigler et al. 2003). We know from other papers that the NMMNH team were still regarding the Snyder Quarry aetosaur as a species of Desmatosuchus as late as 2005 (Heckert et al. 2003, 2005, Lucas et al. 2005).

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However, the Snyder Quarry aetosaur was also being studied by William G. Parker of Petrified Forest National Park. Rather than concluding that this species was a member of Desmatosuchus, Parker concluded in a 2003 masters thesis that the Snyder Quarry aetosaur ‘shares almost no characters with Desmatosuchus, instead is more closely related to Paratypothorax, and represents a distinct genus’ (Parker & Irmis 2005). This perspective was first published in an abstract (Parker 2003) and the same view was later alluded to in a paper on the vertebrate fauna of Petrified Forest National Park (Parker & Irmis 2005), and in other papers [adjacent image shows paramedian osteoderms of Aetosaurus].

Finally, in the January 2007 issue of Journal of Systematic Palaeontology, Parker argued that D. chamaensis represented a new taxon which he named Heliocanthus. Unlike other aetosaurs, the paramedian osteoderms at the hip region and tail-base of this taxon possess a short, anteriorly directed spike. Many other features also differentiate the Snyder Quarry aetosaur from Desmatosuchus and all other aetosaurs. Parker (2007) showed that the osteoderms of the Snyder Quarry aetosaur were misinterpreted by the NMMNH team.

Given that, as mentioned above, the NMMNH team were still referring to this taxon as Desmatosuchus chamaensis as late as 2005, it seems somewhat odd that, two weeks prior to the appearance of Parker’s Heliocanthus paper, Lucas et al. published a two-page paper in which they argued that the scute morphology of D. chamaensis was distinct enough from other aetosaur genera to warrant the naming of a new taxon, Rioarribasuchus (Lucas et al. 2006). In other words, we now have two new generic names published for the same taxon: Heliocanthus and Rioarribasuchus. I don’t want to seem accusatory, but Lucas et al.’s naming of Rioarribasuchus has the general feeling of a claim-jump about it: it’s almost as if Lucas et al. knew that Parker was going to publish a new name for the Snyder Quarry aetosaur, and therefore quickly rushed out their own new generic name in order to beat him to it. Is this really what happened? It certainly looks like it.

What makes this situation all the more suspicious is that a similar thing has happened elsewhere in the aetosaur literature. In 1991, Adrian Hunt and Spencer Lucas of the NMMNH named Redondasuchus reseri for isolated osteoderms from the Redonda Formation of New Mexico. They diagnosed this aetosaur on the basis of the shape and proportions of its osteoderms, and on the lack of raised bosses or of a radial pattern on the osteoderms (Hunt & Lucas 1991). Long & Murry (1995) disagreed with the idea that such scutes were unique and diagnostic, and regarded Redondasuchus reseri as a synonym of the wide-bodied species Typothorax coccinarum.

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In an unpublished thesis, Jeffrey Martz of Texas Tech University also re-evaluated Redondasuchus and concluded that the holotype osteoderms of this aetosaur were misinterpreted. In fact it seemed that Hunt & Lucas (1991) had interpreted some osteoderms both back-to-front, and as coming from the wrong side of the body. What they interpreted as a strange down-curve at the lateral edge of a left paramedian osteoderm was in fact a far less unusual change in angle near the medial edge of a right paramedian osteoderm. On the basis of this reinterpretation and other features, Martz (2002) concluded that Redondasuchus strongly resembled Typothorax, and most likely represented a small species of that taxon [adjacent pic is yet another life restoration of D. haplocerus, and not a particularly good one I'm sorry to say].

This is where this story takes an odd turn. It wasn’t Martz who put out a paper correcting this interpretation, citing his own thesis in the process…. but the NMMNH team. Spielmann et al. (2006) happily acknowledged Hunt & Lucas’ prior misinterpretation of the Redonda Formation aetosaur osteoderms: however, they discussed the new interpretation as if it was a novel idea, even though they both cited Martz (2002), and produced figures that were uncannily similar to his. As with the apparent claim-jump regarding Parker’s work on the Snyder Quarry aetosaur, one cannot help but get the impression that the NMMNH team knew of unpublished conclusions and produced a paper that pre-empted someone else’s work.

I can’t help but think that something odd has happened here, on two occasions. What does everyone else think about this? Furthermore, what can, and should, be done? One final thing. Apparently, the new name for the Snyder Quarry aetosaur, Rioarribasuchus, was published shortly before Parker’s new name for the same taxon, Heliocanthus, as mentioned earlier. However, does this mean that the latter is destined for objective synonymy? Maybe not.

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In a 2004 paper, Jerry Harris argued that DOI (Digital Object Identifier) codes can now be used to ‘date’ the digital publication of an article, and that controversies over the exact timing of a publication’s appearance could be resolved by examining the DOI code (Harris 2004). Jerry used the small theropods Epidendrosaurus and Scansoriopteryx as examples, both of which are likely synonymous but were published within weeks of each other. A DOI for Parker’s Heliocanthus paper is available on the webpage of the Journal of Systematic Palaeontology, but I haven’t yet seen the DOI for the Rioarribasuchus paper. The idea of using DOIs to determine nomenclatural priority is, so far as I know, still under discussion and no rules have been formulated, but this might be worth thinking about. Having said all that, this discussion is probably moot given that I’m not aware of any indication that Parker’s paper was published prior to the start of 2007 (whereas the Rioarribasuchus paper was published at the end of 2006).

So there you have it. Ha – and you thought dinosaurs were controversial! And I haven’t even mentioned the long series of exchanges that occurred between members of the NMMNH team and Simon Harris, David Gower and Mark Wilkinson. Another time, maybe.

PS – while searching for images that could accompany this article I found BUGGER ALL in the way of good pieces of art. A plea: artists, please stop drawing bloody theropods and do some nice crurotarsan pictures!

Refs – -

Harris, J. D. 2004. ‘Published works’ in the electronic age: recommended amendments to Articles 8 and 9 of the Code. Bulletin of Zoological Nomenclature 61, 138-148.

Heckert, A. B., Lucas, S. G. Sullivan, R. M., Hunt, A. P. & Spielmann, J. A. 2005. The vertebrate fauna of the Upper Triassic (Revueltian: early-mid Norian) Painted Desert Member (Petrified Forest Formation: Chinle Group) in the Chama Basin, northern New Mexico. New Mexico Geological Society Guidebook 56, 302-318.

- ., Zeigler, K. E. & Lucas, S. G. 2003. Aetosaurs (Archosauria: Stagonolepididae) from the Upper Triassic (Revueltian) Snyder Quarry, New Mexico. New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science, Bulletin 24, 115-126.

Hunt, A. P. & Lucas, S. G. 1991. A new aetosaur from the Redonda Formation (Late Triassic: Middle Norian of east-central New Mexico, USA). Neues Jahrbuch fur Geologie und Palaontologie, Monatshefte 1991, 728-736.

Long, R. A. & Murry, P. A. 1995. Late Triassic (Carnian and Norian) tetrapods from the southwestern United States. New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science, Bulletin 4, 1-254.

Lucas, S. G., Hunt, A. P. & Spielmann, J. A. 2006. Rioarribasuchus, a new name for an aetosaur from the Upper Triassic of north-central New Mexico. New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science, Bulletin 37, 581-582.

- ., Zeigler, K. E., Heckert, A. B. & Hunt, A. P. 2005. Review of Upper Triassic stratigraphy and biostratigraphy in the Chama Basin, northern New Mexico. New Mexico Geological Society Guidebook 56, 170-181.

Martz, J. W. 2002. The morphology and ontogeny of Typothorax coccinarum (Archosauria Stagonolepididae) from the Upper Triassic of the American Southwest. Unpublished M.S. thesis, Texas Tech University (Lubbock, TX).

Parker, W. 2003. Revised taxonomy of the Late Triassic aetosaur Desmatosuchus (Archosauria: Crurotarsi) from the southwestern United States. Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology 23 (3 Suppl.), 85A.

- . 2007. Reassessment of the aetosaur ‘Desmatosuchuschamaensis with a reanalysis of the phylogeny of the Aetosauria (Archosauria: Pseudosuchia). Journal of Systematic Palaeontology 5, 41-68.

- . & Irmis, R. B. 2005. Advances in Late Triassic vertebrate paleontology based on new material from Petrified Forest National Park, Arizona. New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science, Bulletin 29, 45-58.

Spielmann, J. A., Hunt, A. P., Lucas, S. G. & Heckert, A. B. 2006. Revision of Redondasuchus (Archosauria: Aetosauria) from the Upper Triassic Redonda Formation, New Mexico, with description of a new species. New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science, Bulletin 37, 583-587.

Zeigler, K. E., Heckert, A. B. & Lucas, S. G. 2002. A new species of Desmatosuchus (Archosauria: Aetosauria) from the Upper Triassic of the Chama Basin, north-central New Mexico. New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science, Bulletin 21, 215-219.

Comments

  1. #1 Anthony Docimo
    April 11, 2007

    Is there something about aetosaurs that promotes one-upmanship in scientists? :)

    A very enlightening post. neat.

    and I second the request for crusotarsan images! (even if I can’t spell it properly)

  2. #2 Neil
    April 11, 2007

    I have to agree, something fishy is going on there. Does this sort of thing happen often?

  3. #3 neil
    April 11, 2007

    Arrgh. My head hurts. I guess the real question is, would an up-river croc by anyother name still smell as sweet?

  4. #4 Nathan Myers
    April 11, 2007

    All those extra artists drawing theropods had only just torn themselves away from drawing bloodshot cyclopeans operating hypertrophied gearshift levers, and now you want them to switch to crurotarsans? I don’t think the space of theropods operating racing equipment has even been fully explored yet.

  5. #5 Xiaolin
    April 11, 2007

    Even though I am not an anatomist/paleontologist and can’t comment on most of the posts, I still find this blog a very inspiring & informative source. Thanks to Darren Naish & keep up the wonderful work!

  6. #6 Asher Elbein
    April 11, 2007

    Hah! Find me some good skeletal references and I’ll draw you some. I love Aetosaurs, But I have yet to find a satisfactory reference for any of them.
    Plus, theropods are fun, well known, and not particularly difficult to draw. Thats why we artists crank them out so much.

  7. #7 David Marjanovi?
    April 11, 2007

    So now, does Epidendrosaurus or Scansoriopteryx have DOI priority? Does the latter’s publication — a book — even have a DOI?

  8. #8 archoholic
    April 11, 2007

    Great post! Not only did you introduce me to my new fave common name..armadillodiles. But you reintroduced Jeff’s dilemma that apparently fell on deaf ears on the VP list. I also appreciate the art, apparently aetosaurs weren’t as hungry as many sunken-cheek&fossa dinosaurs appear to have been.

    thanks

  9. #9 John H
    April 11, 2007

    Seems par for the course for certain persons’ behavior, and certainly doesn’t seem specific to aetosaurs, more of a Triassic of SW America (and assorted other fossils) thing. Makes me glad I don’t work on that stuff! Although even biomechanics research has its own folks of dodgy ethics… Be glad you’re not all paleoanthropologists, yikes, that’s a rough field! :-O

    Although it is fair to point out that claim-jumping is common in all sciences (“all is fair in love, war, and publishing?”); inethical yes, sometimes; competitive, certainly; but illegal/punishable (in a professional sense much more likely than a criminal sense), not inherently. Although this case might be on the edge (depends on whether sanctity of confidential peer review was broken, etc); I don’t know enough to judge.

  10. #10 John H
    April 11, 2007

    Sooooo…. you left me wondering, is this what you hinted at earlier about discussion w/Nature’s investigative reporter Rex Dalton, hmm? Seems like it’s his kind of thang.

  11. #11 cephyn
    April 11, 2007

    Ripped from the headlines? I could swear I’ve seen a Law&Order episode about scientific one-upsmanship – only it ended in murder, of course.

  12. #12 Georgios Georgalis
    April 11, 2007

    Hallo to everyone
    I am George, a Greek amateur palaeontologist
    I realy love Crurortarsi….My favorite Archosauria
    I think, independently of the publication date, we must use the name Rioarribasuchus, because the name Heliocanthus is preoccupied

  13. #13 Nathan Myers
    April 11, 2007

    Seriously, what you’re describing isn’t the world of paleontology, but the world of academia. When merit isn’t measured by actual work and its results, but by incidental details, this is inevitable. The participants aren’t even being unethical, particularly. They’re following the rules of the world they’ve landed in; but the rules there stink. So, depending on DOI won’t help.

    What might help is what is done in astronomy: if there’s a dispute, neither name is used, and a third one is chosen in its place. It was delicious that astronomers named a particularly disputed planetoid “Eris”, after the goddess of discord.

  14. #14 Zach Miller
    April 11, 2007

    I echo David’s question. I have Scansoriopteryx’s book description, and I’d read about Epidendrosaurus (not the description itself, however). The two certainly seem cogeneric to me. Awesome aetosaur post. As for crurotarsians, I myself have drawn Arizonasaurus (at my original blog) and Effigia (at my current blog)!

  15. #15 Darren Naish
    April 11, 2007

    Many thanks to all for their comments. Some responses..

    David and Zach: you need to read Jerry’s paper to get the lowdown on what DOIs have to do with the Epidendrosaurus-Scansoriopteryx issue; it’s available for free here (and this pdf is from Jerry’s page of publications here). I won’t repeat what he says as it takes too long to summarise.

    John: the discussion with Rex Dalton is not related to the aetosaur issue (after all, I’m not personally involved in this and am only commenting as an observer). It concerns another issue that I was personally involved in, but as of today I’m not sure if Nature will be covering it. I’ll ask Rex.

    Finally, someone noted that Heliocanthus is preoccupied (I can’t remember who.. I thought it was left as a comment on one of the aetosaur articles, but I can’t see it right now). Well, there is a plant called Heliocanthus. However, this doesn’t count as a preoccupation because different nomenclatural codes exist for plants and animals. In fact quite a few plants and animals have the same generic name, but it doesn’t matter.

    At last, some good data on rabbit-headed cats…

  16. #16 saurian5
    April 11, 2007

    There actually is a precedent to this. Small (1989) argued that “Typothorax” meadei did not belong to the genera Typothorax or Desmatosuchus following a similar suggestion by Long and Ballew (1985). Subsequently a year later Hunt and Lucas published a short little paper assigning the material to a new genus, Longosuchus meadei. This and the current publications by these authors appear to be what we would call “oportunistic publishing”. Basically you look through the literature and note where someone has suggested referral to a new genus or named an informal geological member and then put together a short, usually non-peer reviewed, paper filling in the blanks.

    The original description of Redondasuchus (Hunt and Lucas [1990])as representing an aetosaur lacking lateral plates was already highly speculative as all aetosaurs have lateral plates and the Redondasaurus material consists of only a few isolated plates. What is more amazing is how the NMMNH crew continues to insist on the validity of this taxon (including the lack of lateral plates) with a series of redecriptions with no new material coming forth (Heckert et al., 1996; Speilmann et al., 2006). The recent attempt at discrediting the observations of Martz (2002)by Speilmann et al. (2006) are laughable at best and demonstrate non-peer reviewed self publishing at its worst. Especially notable are the arguments regarding “flexed” vs. “arched” and the dismissal of one of Martz’s figures as being based on a plate that was reconstructed incorrectly. First off, the NMMNH crew have not seen the material first hand and this so-called “faulty reconstruction” is based on a blurry photograph. Secondly, an alternative interpretation should be demonstrated through the use of new figures, not simply stated matter-of-factly. Finally, anyone who has spent time looking at Typothorax material knows that many of the plates in carapace are indeed “flexed” (shown by several specimens including material figured by von Huene [1915])rendering the whole discussion moot.

    Finally it is maddening (and somewhat amusing) to note that in at least four papers on aetosaurs (Hunt and Lucas 1992; Lucas et al. 2002; Heckert and Lucas, 2002; and Lucas et al. 2006) the NMMNH working consistently mix up their caudal and dorsal vertebrae, discussing how bizarre they are as a result. What does all of this tell you?

    BTW, we don’t actually study aetosaurs, we just think they are kinda cool. ;)

  17. #17 K. Zeigler
    April 11, 2007

    Hello Darren – I’m am unbelievably heartened to see this information posted (Alex Downs pointed me to your blog). The politics are disheartening to some of us (hence my leave-taking of paleontology and entrance into the weird and wacky field of paleomagnetics).

    If I may state for the record, and for what it is worth to those perusing your blog: yes – there is a discrepancy in the publication dates for my original D. chamaensis paper (printer delay caused that problem, if I recall correctly). I wrote that paper as part of the research related to my M.S. thesis under Dr. Lucas’ supervision and I chose at the time (with Dr. Lucas’ advice) to take a more conservative approach and simply name a new species mostly because I was not as thoroughly versed in the aetosauria as someone like Bill Parker (plus, our material was associated, not articulated, posing additional hesitancy on my part). Bill and I did discuss this many times and I do fully agree with his interpretation now that I have more experience under my belt in terms of identifying these animals.

    So, I hope I did not confuse matters unduly from the beginning, but I do want to state that I strongly endorse the research of Bill Parker and Jeff Martz.

    Cheers,
    -Kate Zeigler (the paleomagician)

  18. #18 Christopher Taylor
    April 12, 2007

    Without wanting to get into the arguments pro and con allowing DOI dates to indicate date of publication (Jerry Harris’ paper sums them up pretty well, from memory), the ICZN currently allows printed publication dates only (or, for CD publications, the date of the CD’s accession in a library). If the ICZN does decide to allow DOI dates, the general practice in the past has not been to make new rules retrospective from date of adoption, so it is unlikely that the names given above would be affected by this.
    If there has been any ‘claim-jumping’, this would violate the ethical recommendations of the ICZN, but this is a recommendation only, not a regulation, so violation of this point does not automatically invalidate a name.

  19. #19 Dinosaur Dreaming Dude
    April 12, 2007

    I see this week’s Nature also has a story about palaeontological claim jumping! In 2004 a team from Alberta, led by Michael Caldwell, found a series of sauropod tracks in Croatia, which they quickly announced to the press. But before they could publish officially a Croatian team from Zagreb jumped in with a paper, submitted to Cretaceous Research, that doesn’t even acknowledge the Canadian discoverers! That’s what I call playing dirty.

  20. #20 John Scanlon
    April 12, 2007

    Further to the cryptic comments by John H and Darren on other analogous cases and Rex Dalton at Nature:
    Rex has a story in today’s issue (vol 446: p708) about a titanosaur trackway on Hvar island, Croatia, discovered by Mike Caldwell and crew while looking for Cenomanian marine varanoids and basal snakes (Hvar is one of the classic localities for such wonderful things, formerly known as Lesina when controlled by Italy). While Caldwell et al. were back in Canada waiting for their luggage (and samples) to be un-lost by an airline, Croatian local Alexandar Mezga and colleagues whipped off a paper to Cretaceous Research reporting the trackway without any credit or mention of the actual discoverers.
    I think – and Caldwell seems pretty definite – that the journal and its editors need to take responsibility for clarifying what’s gone down in such cases, publishing a record of who knew what, when, and requiring the offending authors to explain or retract.
    In the case of zoological taxon names though, the only means for ‘unpublishing’ under the current Code is suppression by the ICZN, and you can ask any Australian herpetologist over 35 (for example) how likely that is to happen.

  21. #21 Darren Naish
    April 12, 2007

    Yes, it’s the Croatian story that I was involved in (I was the handling editor for the paper concerned). Now that the story’s out I will discuss it on the blog.

    John, you’re referring to Wells & Wellington right? I’ve long been interested in this whole mess and am planning to blog on it. For those who can’t wait that long, check out…

    Thulborn, T. 1986. Taxonomic tangles from Australia. Nature 321, 13-14.

    I just have to note that Wells & Wellington coined such beauties as Eroticoscincus, Solvonemesis (etymology: ‘to set free the goddess of retributive justice’) and Vaderscincus (etymology: ‘named for Mr Darth Vader’). These names are not in widespread usage.

  22. #22 B. Parker
    April 12, 2007

    Thanks to everyone who pointed me to this blog and thanks to Darren for bringing this issue to light. A few more comments:

    I immediately contacted Jerry Harris when I found out about the Rioarribasuchus paper (as did Spencer Lucas when he found out about Heliocanthus) because was aware of Jerry’s research regarding the priority issue in the electronic age. The Heliocanthus paper had been in press for over a year and the name was originally used in my MSc thesis from 2003. Jerry’s comments (given by him above)were very informative. I also contacted Spencer directly to find out what Rioarribasuchus was (I had not seen the paper yet)and he stated that he was unaware that I was providing a new name. However, in his paper he does cite Parker and Irmis (2005), which specifically states that D. chamaensis represents a new genus (thus establishing our “intellectual property” or so I assumed) and the name was in my thesis and from 2003 which some at the NMMNH had access too. I cannot say that Spencer did this with intent to “claim jump” but no matter his intent it does not portray him in a good light. It is interesting that he cites the Parker and Irmis (2005) paper as supportive of naming the new genus. Because of the priority established by my thesis, 2003 abstract, and the 2005 paper I wish that I had been contacted to ask if I was planning on providing a new genus name.

    Despite this I feel that the most serious transgression noted in Darren’s post is the plagerism of Jeff Martz’s work by Speilmann et al. (2006). As many people have noted in their comments, publishing a new name before someone else does not constitute academic dishonesty but plagerism most certainly does. Obviously Spielmann et al. had read Jeff’s thesis because they cite the portions they disagree with yet clearly claim independent discovery that the scute was interpreted backwards and produce a figure very similar to Jeff’s. As another post pointed out much of the reasoning in that paper is seriously flawed and will need to be dealt with in a subsequent publication.

    The exact motives behind these two papers may never be known (although many people have contacted me with their own theories and evidence, which unfortunately is nothing but hearsay) but the bottom line is that despite the motive behind publishing, both of these papers are seriously flawed scientifically, were not properly peer-reviewed, and thus simply constitute no more than “gray literature”. The guys from New Mexico will vehemently deny this but that is not up to us, but rather our colleagues, to decide. As Jerry noted regarding Heliocanthus, yes they got the name, but what is important is the hard work that went into the description and analysis portions. I would invite our colleagues to obtain both of these papers as well as Martz (2002) and Speilmann et al. (2006) and decide for themselves which are more “citation-worthy” and to evaluate some of the comments I am making in this note. I think that the points brought up in Darren’s post reflect the potential damage these individuals are doing to not only their reputations as researchers but to the overall reputation of their institution as well.

  23. #23 Jerry D. Harris
    April 12, 2007

    Hi Darren et al -

    Darren: Many thanks for advertising my paper on the DOI thing! As someone who found himself at the heart of the unfortunate matter of Heliocanthus and Rioarribasuchus — I was senior editor on the volume in which the latter was published — please allow me to say a few things!

    First, I had absolutely no idea that Bill Parker was working on the specimen when I dealt with the Rioarribasuchus manuscript — if I had, I would have done something (or, at least, attempted to do something). I do regret that Bill has had to deal with the unfortunate results of my ignorance on that matter. Bill and others had contacted me about the situation when the whole thing came to light, and here’s the relevant portion (slightly edited) of my response to their inquiries from Jan. 5, 2007:

    ————–
    Bill’s Heliocanthus paper is on JSP‘s web site under the “Forthcoming Articles” link. However, [the website] shows it was published on-line as of 1/4/07 — regardless of when it comes out in print, that’s the official publication date as far as the journal (and publisher, as well as most people of whom I’m aware) is concerned. Whether or not the ICZN will see it that way or not remains to be seen (see below); they’ve not, to the extent of my knowledge, acted on my recommendation of a couple years ago [links Darren provided] to follow the publishers in using the DOI number as the anchor for the publication date.

    Since the NMMNH&S Bulletin has neither DOIs nor electronic publication, pinpointing its date is a bit harder. There is the date it rolled off the presses, but that date doesn’t meet ICZN 8.1.2, which specifies that “publication” also constitutes, in part, availability to be obtained — I discuss this issue in more detail in the paper cited above, if you’re interested. To meet that criterion, I announced the publication and availability of our volume on 12/27/06 to secure that as the date at which it became available. Thus, Rioarribasuchus became valid as of 12/27/06, exactly one week before Heliocanthus became available on 1/4/07, giving Rioarribasuchus seniority.

    In reality, the issue comes down to how the ICZN would interpret their own rules as set in their 2000 volume (4th ed.). In there, they specify (9.8) that material distributed electronically, including the Web, do not constitute publication; only the hard copy will do, and there’s no telling when Bill’s paper will hit print (looks like March or April). At present, then, taking 9.8 literally, they would not recognize Heliocanthus as valid until the hard copy comes out anyway. However, all publishers of major journals — Nature, Science, Elsevier, Blackwell, Cambridge, Wiley, Allen — are all using DOI numbers for their publications; most of them state somewhere in their sites that they consider the DOI-tied date at which a paper is posted on-line as the official publication date, and it doesn’t change when the hard copy comes out. My sense has been that most people support using the DOI number to anchor the publication date, though I don’t know specifically what anyone on the ICZN thinks about the issue — that is, I don’t know how they feel about letting the publishers tell them what to do with their rules. If they take my recommendation, they could make DOIs retroactively valid to 2000 (that is, applicable to anything published after the 4th edition became enacted), but that would still make Heliocanthus available only as of 1/4/07.

    I suppose it could be argued whether or not my announcement on the vertpaleo listserver constitutes “official” availability (the Code doesn’t specify what constitutes “available”; again, it’s something I discuss at greater length in the aforementioned paper); it’s possible someone could argue that it wasn’t really available until I posted the price and contact info for the gift shop, which I did on (drumroll, please) 1/4/07 (though I did point to the shop’s web site in the 12/27/06 announcement, so I would consider that particular tidbit of information to have been available as of that date) — it would be a weak argument, but one that could be made nonetheless. Hypothetically, it could therefore be that both names come down to 1/4/07, in which case priority could have to come down to a matter of hours or minutes — I sent the second post at 4:09 PM MST, which would be 11:09 PM GST (again, it could be argued that the time at the locus of distribution — in this case, Albuquerque in MST — is the relevant one); I have no idea when Cambridge put up Bill’s PDF, but Cambridge probably has that info somewhere. But given all other information — the announcement and availability dates for each — in the end, I think the case is strongest for Rioarribasuchus having priority over Heliocanthus.

    Of course, close calls like this are rare, but becoming increasingly common as more and more people enter systematic zoological sciences, which is what prompted me to discuss the issue in the BZN article in the first place.

    —————

    In the end, I suppose at least some of the ultimate fault is mine for being unaware of Bill’s work and the impending publication of the Heliocanthus paper, but then again, I am only human! Whether or not Spencer Lucas et al. were aware of the existence of the Heliocanthus paper and thus acted with specific malice is not something I can speak to, but I will say that for anyone to cast oblique aspersions isn’t helpful in the end — we need less enmity in paleo, not more.

    I will also say this for the record: while, ultimately, the name Heliocanthus may be a junior synonym, I ask that people remember that erecting the name is only a TINY part of the bigger paper Bill Parker wrote, and that the MOST IMPORTANT part of his paper is the very detailed description and analysis — those are entirely valid regardless of the name given to the specimen in question. Those are the things that demonstrate that his science is good and citation-worthy. Sure, naming a new taxon is cool and all — and even if it’s a junior synonym, he did still name it! — but naming a taxon isn’t the be-all, end-all of paleontology: determining why a particular taxon is relevant and figuring out what it tells us about the grand history of life on Earth is, and that’s really what Bill achieved in his paper, and that’s why it will be cited down the line.

    Oh — yes, I also looked around (after Bill showed me a draft of his proofs) to see whether or not Heliocanthus was preoccupied anyway, and as Darren mentioned, there is a plant called Helicanthus that seems to be sometimes misspelled with either an extra “a” or an extra “o”, but keep in mind that the current rules of nomenclature allow identical names as long as they’re not in the same “Kingdom” — a plant and an animal can have the same names. Personally, I think that’s one of those rules that’s got to go — presently, for example, there are a plant and a bird named Chaoyangia, both from the Jehol Group of China. That’s not confusing…?!?

  24. #24 Darren Naish
    April 12, 2007

    Many thanks to everyone for their thoughtful and cogent comments. It is highly ironic that I have recently found myself in a very similar situation to Jerry.

  25. #25 David Marjanovi?
    April 13, 2007

    presently, for example, there are a plant and a bird named Chaoyangia

    That may be among the reasons why the bird has been called Chaoyangornis at least once in the literature. (Lapsus calami — junior objective synonym. Unfortunately.)

  26. #26 Michael P. Taylor
    April 14, 2007

    I was going to write to Jerry off-list, but then I thought what the heck. I don’t think anything I’m going to say is particularly surprising.

    Whether or not Spencer Lucas et al. were aware of the existence of the Heliocanthus paper and thus acted with specific malice is not something I can speak to, but I will say that for anyone to cast oblique aspersions isn’t helpful in the end — we need less enmity in paleo, not more.

    I can’t agree, sorry Jerry. If the situation truly is as Darren has suggested, then this needs to be known, and widely known. If the story of Martz’s scooping over Redondasuchus is true, and if it had been made widely known at the time, that might have been enough to have saved Parker from walking into the same lamppost a few years later. In short, if this is really going on, then sweeping it under the carpet is the very last thing we should be doing.

    If it’s not accurate, then by putting it out here in a public forum, Darren has at least provided a perfect opportunity for Lucas and his colleagues to reply in public, explain the misunderstanding and make sure everyone knows their side of these stories. It’s a public forum, the NMMNH people are just as welcome to post here as anyone else, and I for one hope that they do: nothing would please me more than to find that this is all a series of innocent misunderstandings.

    … And then there’s this (sorry to keep disagreeing with you, Jerry :-)

    Sure, naming a new taxon is cool and all [...] but naming a taxon isn’t the be-all, end-all of paleontology.

    While this is obviously true, I think it’s very misleading, and approaches uncomfortably close to excusing what is alleged to have been done in Parker’s case. Yes, the description, figures, analysis and discussion are all in the pure scientific sense more “important” than the new name. But the name is what people remember. It generates shedloads of citations just by being used in many venues (how many times have I written “Suuwassea Harris and Dodson 2004″?). It’s the only part of our work that most of our mothers can understand. In my view, to steal a name that is someone else’s by right would be a very serious offence. How anyone can describe it as “not unethical” or say that it “does not constitute academic dishonesty”, as some have in their comments above, just astounds me. I assume the latter comment is due more to Parker’s gracious attitude than to his disinterested judgement.

    Anyway — let’s hope that all this turns out to be moot, and that Lucas or a colleague shortly posts an explanation for how it all came about. I can’t believe that no-one at the NMMNH has heard about this post by now, so it can surely only be a matter of time before someone responds.

  27. #27 Randy
    April 14, 2007

    I agree with many of Mike’s comments – though I just wanted to point out that the papers that may have scooped Martz on Redondasuchus and Parker on Heliocanthus appeared in the same symposium volume, so its not as if Bill Parker could have saved himself “from walking into the same lamppost a few years later” as Mike suggests.

  28. #28 Jerry D. Harris
    April 14, 2007

    I can’t agree, sorry Jerry. If the situation truly is as Darren has suggested, then this needs to be known, and widely known. If the story of Martz’s scooping over Redondasuchus is true, and if it had been made widely known at the time, that might have been enough to have saved Parker from walking into the same lamppost a few years later. In short, if this is really going on, then sweeping it under the carpet is the very last thing we should be doing…If it’s not accurate, then by putting it out here in a public forum, Darren has at least provided a perfect opportunity for Lucas and his colleagues to reply in public, explain the misunderstanding and make sure everyone knows their side of these stories.

    What I meant was that without direct evidence of intent, no one should be making accusations. I’m all for having the material out in a public forum for discussion, and it’d be great if there was a response somewhere from the NMMNH&S; what I did/do not see as valuable is for people (a) not involved in the situation, or (b) not in possession of direct evidence of the mindsets and/or intentions of the parties involved to either accuse anyone of anything or to necessarily believe something without knowing all the evidence (which I do not pretend to know or have in this particular instance). Yes, it can be valuable to learn from others, but there may be something else involved here of which none of us is aware (I’m hard-pressed to think of what that might be, but lack of ability to comprehend something doesn’t constitute evidence!).

    While this is obviously true, I think it’s very misleading, and approaches uncomfortably close to excusing what is alleged to have been done in Parker’s case.

    In no way was I attempting to do anything like that. What I meant is that people shouldn’t skip out on reading Bill’s paper because they’re laboring under an impression that it’s been rendered useless because the name erected therein isn’t valid…this actually happens: I’ve occasionally encountered people that will purposefully avoid a paper erecting a name because they’ve heard that the taxon isn’t valid. The validity of a nomenclatural action is not the entire reason for writing a paper (at least, it shouldn’t be, not these days!); it shouldn’t even be the primary reason for doing so, and I think most of we paleontologists are pretty tired of short little say-nothing papers that are there solely to do so. Erecting Heliocanthus was a tiny part of Bill’s paper; the bulk of it, and I’d argue the most important part, was everything else in it. That’s all I was trying to say.

  29. #29 Michael P. Taylor
    April 14, 2007

    While this is obviously true, I think it’s very misleading, and approaches uncomfortably close to excusing what is alleged to have been done in Parker’s case.

    In no way was I attempting to do anything like that. What I meant is that people shouldn’t skip out on reading Bill’s paper because they’re laboring under an impression that it’s been rendered useless because the name erected therein isn’t valid.

    Well, here at least we are in complete agreement!

  30. #30 Rasmus Boegh
    April 15, 2007

    Interesting post. Obviously, for a person not in any way involved in this mess it is hard to say what happened, but I thought this link might be of interest for people not aware of its existence:

    http://www.iczn.org/iczn/index.jsp?booksection=appendixA&nfv=

    Note in particular:

    “A zoologist should not publish a new name if he or she has reason to believe that another person has already recognized the same taxon and intends to establish a name for it [...]. A zoologist in such a position should communicate with the other person (or their representatives) and only feel free to establish a new name if that person has failed to do so in a reasonable period.”

    While the requirements of staying within the Code of Ethics to a large extend is left to the judgement of the individual zoologist (contrary to the remaining Code), I certainly hope the case described in Darren’s post is a case of simple mistakes happening rather than a deliberate breach of the Code of Ethics.

  31. #31 Dr Vector
    April 15, 2007

    Here’s what troubles me.

    1. The NMMNH team has published new names for things they knew to be under study by other authors. That’s already not great, as recognized by the ICZN code of ethics (or anyone whose conscience has a pulse).
    2. We don’t have to pretend that we don’t know who knew what or when they knew it, because in both cases the NMMNH team reversed their own long-held and hard-fought views and suddenly came around to positions that are directly contrary to their earlier findings but suspiciously close to the views of the authors they pre-empted.
    3. This has happened more than once. That’s not airtight evidence of foul play, but it establishes a pattern of behavior.

    I’m not involved in the situations (plural!), and I don’t have a crystal ball that would tell me what everyone concerned was thinking. But that doesn’t mean that I can’t look at the available evidence and come to at least a tentative conclusion. It’s not out of the question that there might be a completely innocent explanation for all of this, but that’s certainly not the first thing that comes to mind when you look at these situations. The first thing that comes to mind–on the basis of available evidence, Jerry’s apologetics notwithstanding–is that Martz and Parker got screwed, independently and deliberately.

    If someone can produce an innocent explanation that is less complicated and more believable than the US tax code…well, that statement would still be true. However, under those circumstances I would happily spread the word and issue apologies to anyone I’ve offended.

    Until that happens, let’s not downplay the seriousness of what has (apparently) happened, nor minimize the personal and professional anguish of having one’s work plagi–oh, right, pre-empted.

    Long live Heliocanthus.

  32. #32 Dr Vector
    April 15, 2007

    P.S. If you work in the Triassic of the American Southwest, be sure to publish before you file your thesis! I’m sure there’s no danger whatsoever that a certain research group with their own pet journal would read your unpublished thesis and rush into print to scoop you, even if it meant contradicting reams of their own previous publications.

    I just think it’s good practice. ;-)

  33. #33 TheBrummell
    April 17, 2007

    How cool is it that several of the characters in a story showed up to contribute? I really didn’t follow well enough to really grok what’s going on, but I do think this kind of discussion is very useful and interesting.

    Thanks for posting this, Darren. And thanks to the commenters for contributing.

  34. #34 The Paleomagician
    April 17, 2007

    Having once been directly associated with Team NMMNH, if we wish to designate these folks as such, I was often subjected to lengthy tirades against certain individuals in the paleontological community (ok, actually it was very long list of people). Needless to say, those who were speared the most often were often those whose work ended up being “pre-empted” or otherwise distorted, etc. I guess you could say I was the proverbial fly on the wall and I heard a lot of things that would have made several of our colleagues very very angry to hear. So, I would suggest that Dr. Vector is much closer to the truth than he/she might suspect . It’s an unfortunate example of what happens when there are no repurcussions for unprofessional and/or unethical behavior.

  35. #35 Scott Hartman
    April 17, 2007

    DArren wrote: “A plea: artists, please stop drawing bloody theropods and do some nice crurotarsan pictures!”

    My plea: Someone please make available sufficient photographs of specimens that proper anatomical reconstructions can be made!

    I have a strong interest in restoring crurotarsan anatomy, but there is bugger-all available to work from, and grants to see the sepfimens myself are not exactly abundant. Good anatomicaly data for artists doesn’t grow on trees.

  36. #36 not that hard to figure out
    April 17, 2007

    1. The NMMNH team has published new names for things they knew to be under study by other authors. That’s already not great, as recognized by the ICZN code of ethics (or anyone whose conscience has a pulse).
    ….
    3. This has happened more than once. That’s not airtight evidence of foul play, but it establishes a pattern of behavior.

    You are right, this is not the first time, and it surly will not be the last (unfortunately). I guess this is what happens when you have your own “journal.” It sadly appears it is best to keep anyone from the NMMNH&S at a good arms length, along with anyone they associate with. I have learned this the hard way myself, as have several people I know. Unfortunately Lucas and his group are the circling vultures of the paleo community, waiting to swoop in an pick up any bit of research they see and hurry to publish (often in their own in-house publication – how convent for them!). Its is sad to be fearful for the safety of your data when you are doing research (particularly in the southwest), and it is ridiculous that one must be as secretive as it appears one must to keep your data safe from the scooper’s.

  37. #37 B. Parker
    April 17, 2007

    Just for the record, “not that hard to figure out” is neither Parker or Martz. We will use our real names when we comment so there is no guesswork.

  38. #38 not that hard to figure out
    April 18, 2007

    Sorry, I did not think that someone might think I was Martz or Parker – I am not. Just another person who has been affected and fears retaliation, so is choosing to stay hidden.

  39. #39 Darren Naish
    April 18, 2007

    Scott wrote…

    DArren wrote: “A plea: artists, please stop drawing bloody theropods and do some nice crurotarsan pictures!”

    My plea: Someone please make available sufficient photographs of specimens that proper anatomical reconstructions can be made!

    I have a strong interest in restoring crurotarsan anatomy, but there is bugger-all available to work from, and grants to see the sepfimens myself are not exactly abundant. Good anatomicaly data for artists doesn’t grow on trees.

    I feel your pain, but I’m not convinced. There are monographic descriptions of certain key Triassic crurotarsans every bit as good – if not far better – as some of the dinosaur literature that’s been used to create high-fidelity reconstructions. On aetosaurs, have you seen (for example) Sawin (1947), Long & Murry (1995) and Desojo & Baez (2005)? (full refs given in my articles). Note also that fairly decent skeletal reconstructions of some Triassic crurotarsan taxa already exist (they appear in works by Sereno, Paul, Parrish and Desojo & Baez), it’s just that they haven’t been used much.

    Furthermore, given the long history of decidedly lacklustre Triassic crurotarsan restorations in the literature (look at some of the mediocre pics I’ve had to include in my posts), most of the workers involved would be especially co-operative if talented artists were to express a definite interest.

    The potential is clearly there, it’s primarily that demand hasn’t been as high. Artists respond to demand, so it’s not their fault. But I say buck the trend. Dinosaurs are awesome, fascinating and neat.. but no more so than any other animal (that line there should perhaps become my tag-line).

  40. #40 not that hard to figure out II
    April 18, 2007

    2. We don’t have to pretend that we don’t know who knew what or when they knew it, because in both cases the NMMNH team reversed their own long-held and hard-fought views and suddenly came around to positions that are directly contrary to their earlier findings but suspiciously close to the views of the authors they pre-empted.

    I’d like to point out that another such example concerns Revueltosaurus, originally described as a dinosaur but shown by Parker and others in 2005 to be a pseudosuchian. The NMMNH people had been consistently arguing that Revueltosaurus is a dinosaur but, curiously enough, they published the following paper at the same time as Parker and others announced their work…

    Hunt, A. P., Lucas, S. G., and J. A. Speilmann, 2005. The postcranial skeleton of Revueltosaurus callenderi (Archosauria: Crurotarsi) from the Upper Triassic of Arizona and New Mexico, USA. New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science Bulletin 29:67-76.

  41. #41 B Parker
    April 18, 2007

    Darren wrote:
    The potential is clearly there, it’s primarily that demand hasn’t been as high. Artists respond to demand, so it’s not their fault. But I say buck the trend. Dinosaurs are awesome, fascinating and neat.. but no more so than any other animal (that line there should perhaps become my tag-line).

    We would love to get reconstructions done of all of our Late Triassic critters (e. g., Vancleavea, Heliocanthus, Desmatosuchus (new reconstruction), phytosaurs, metoposaurs, etc… Most of the stuff that has been done is way over simplified or out of date. We can only recycle Doug Henderson’s stuff so many times. Anyone interested can contact me at William_Parker@nps.gov

  42. #42 Sarah
    April 19, 2007

    I appreciate that the touchy topic of publication ethics has come up in Darren’s blog. I think the topic of “grey” literature that Dr. Vector mentioned (namely, the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science Bulletin) is worth revisiting.

    Disclaimer: The NMMNHS Bulletin page has not been updated since 2005, so these numbers are out of date, but here are some of my observations:

    20 of the listed 31 NMMNHS Bulletins (there are 40 or more by now) are co-edited by Dr. Lucas. This is not problematic in and of itself; most museums and many universities have their own publications, and museum curators, staff, and students provide a valuable service to the scientific community when they help to edit and produce an in-house journal.

    The site also maintains a list of all the articles published in the first 28 volumes. Clearly, the Bulletin has published a substantial number of articles and several long monographs since 1992. Interestingly, of the 433 articles published in the first 28 volumes, Dr. Lucas was a primary author or co-author on 194 of them—roughly 44%. To Dr. Lucas’ credit, this output far, far exceeds my own and certainly represents quite a lot of time and effort on his part, both as an editor and contributor to this journal.

    However, when nearly half of a journals’ articles are coauthored by a frequent editor, questions come up: Does the editor ensure a fair review process on his own work by recusing himself from the entire process for those articles he writes or co-authors? Does the editor respect critical reviews of his own work? How is the editor ensuring a fair balance between his work and that of other contributors? What recourse is available if an author feels his work was treated unfairly, either in the submission process to this journal, or by an article appearing in it?

    I want to reiterate that I am not suggesting that Dr. Lucas or his colleagues engage in unethical practices. But, these are fair questions to ask. I can’t speak to the first three questions, but the last one seems both answerable and potentially problematic. If one did have a complaint about an article Dr. Lucas authored or co-authored (as above commenters suggest they do), how could s/he address it? Normally, one would complain to the editor, but in this case, Dr. Lucas is quite likely to be an editor for that Bulletin. In similar cases with other in-house journals, one could speak with the Head of the author-editor’s department, or the director of the museum/department/university at which the journal is published. As I understand it, Dr. Lucas’ primary affiliation is with the NMMNHS, and while he is an adjunct professor with the local university, he does not answer to any department head there. Dr. Lucas’ direct boss seems to be the NMMNHS museum director, former Lucas student, frequent Bulletin contributor, and frequent Lucas co-author, Dr. Adrian Hunt. One might worry that any appeals process would be biased, regardless of whether or not it is an actual process. And in this case it seems like there is noone else to whom could you appeal if you felt you were treated unfairly.

    I am sure this is not the only journal in which editors frequently deal with their submissions or those of their students and close colleagues (I can think of a few other vert paleo journals, past and present, that have a similar setup). I would be interested to hear thoughts on this phenomenon and how to ensure that the process remains open and fair. Regardless of whether or not any of the accusations levied above are true, the manner in which this journal is published would allow it to be used unethically if someone did desire to do so.

  43. #43 another fly on the wall
    April 19, 2007

    Sarah wrote:

    Does the editor ensure a fair review process on his own work by recusing himself from the entire process for those articles he writes or co-authors? Does the editor respect critical reviews of his own work? How is the editor ensuring a fair balance between his work and that of other contributors? What recourse is available if an author feels his work was treated unfairly, either in the submission process to this journal, or by an article appearing in it?

    Supposedly (and this is just hearsay as I have not co-authored a volume with this individual) Dr. Lucas often surprises his co-editors by placing into the volumes a number of self-authored, non-reviewed papers that the other editors have not seen. Because the volumes are typeset in-house and then sent off to a contracted printer it is fairly easy to do this.

    Also to plug in some missing data from Sarah’s post, NMMNHS Bulletins 35-37 (Cretaceous, Jurassic, Triassic/Jurassic) contain a total of 154 papers of which Dr. Lucas is a author on 52 in addition to his editing duties. While this amounts to only 34% of the articles it is still an impressive number especially when you consider the vast topics covered. What is even more striking is that all three of these bulletins were published in 2006! Quite prolific and admirable (I guess).

    To answer Sarah’s fourth question, while Parker and Martz (and anyone else similarily affected) may not get far contacting the editor or even the director, they do have another recourse. They could contact the Museum Board of Trustees whom I am sure would find it in their best interest to check out all of the allegations made by the indivuals posting here, even if just to clear the NMMNHS staff. Furthermore, the director is appointed by the governor of the state, so there are other individuals that anyone who feels he has been wronged can appeal to. Of course our governor is currently comptemplating a presidential run so he may not care that a few paleontologists are being stepped on. However, as alluded by someone in an earlier post Dr. Lucas and colleagues are potentially (and by some accounts ARE) damaging the credibility of that institution and someone should care about that.

  44. #44 R. Irmis
    April 20, 2007

    Revueltosaurus is an interesting case. In April 2004, Bill Parker discovered new Revueltosaurus callenderi material at Petrified Forest National Park, AZ (PEFO). Immediately after discovery (but before large-scale excavation), it was clear that Revueltosaurus was not a dinosaur, but we weren’t sure exactly what it was. We alluded to this fact in the SVP abstract that was submitted that spring (Stocker et al 2004). After excavation, preparation, and study during the summer, it was very clear that Revueltosaurus was a pseudosuchian (or crurotarsan if you prefer). We worked up a manuscript for submission by September 2004.

    As Triassic colleagues, we let some of the NMMNH folks verbally know about our discovery at about the same time that fall. The proof for this personal communication is documented in Heckert (2004: p. 21), where he states, “Recently Parker et al. (pers. comm.) have discovered skeletal remains at the Petrified Forest National Park that appear to demonstrate that a non-dinosaurian archosaur possessed the teeth assigned to the ornithischian Revueltosaurus callenderi.” Very soon after our personal communication, an abstract co-authored by two NMMNH scientists appeared in the Spring 2005 New Mexico Geological Society Conference proceedings (Hunt and Lucas 2005) (though this abstract was published in 2005, the abstract was posted online and distributed in 2004). This abstract described how they had re-prepared some specimens and discovered that Revueltosaurus was a pseudosuchian archosaur, with no mention of our work or personal communication.

    These specimens weren’t new; they were actually first described in Adrian Hunt’s PhD dissertation (1994) as a new basal archosaur that he informally named “Lucasuchus clifti” (Hunt 1994: p. 253-260) (not to be confused with the aetosaur Lucasuchus hunti formally named by Long & Murry 1995). Hunt thought this was a different taxon from Revueltosaurus (they’re from the same locality) because he named and described Revueltosaurus teeth in 1989 (Hunt 1989), and maintained that these teeth were from ornithischian dinosaurs throughout the 1990s (e.g., Hunt and Lucas 1994; Hunt et al 1998). One would expect that if Hunt and Lucas (2005) made their discovery prior to our personal communication, their close colleague Heckert would have cited Hunt and Lucas’s work in his 2004 paper rather than Parker’s personal communication.

    During the summer of 2004 (during preparation of the new PEFO material and writing of our manuscript), we visited the NMMNH collections and recognized by comparison with our material that these specimens were referable to Revueltosaurus callenderi, but we decided not to include them in our publication because we felt that publishing on Adrian Hunt’s unpublished dissertation specimens would not be ethical. At this point, none of the material had been prepared any further than what was evident in Hunt (1994), and no new ID had been put on the specimens. This was prior to our personal communication with the NMMNH folks later in the fall.

    Our initial paper describing the new Revueltosaurus material from Arizona was accepted to Proceedings B in December, and first appeared online in early May 2005 as Parker et al (2005). The paper that arose from the Hunt and Lucas (2005) abstract was published late in 2005 in a volume of the New Mexico Museum of Natural History & Science Bulletin (Hunt et al 2005). Although Hunt et al (2005) cite Parker et al (2005), they do not do so in the most relevant places (i.e., Discussion and Conclusions), leading the reader to think they reached independent conclusions on their part. I realize that the NMMNH recognition that Revueltosaurus is a pseudosuchian archosaur could have been truly independent, but it would have been nice if the contribution of Parker et al (2005) was better acknowledged given its chronologic priority.

    Heckert, A.B. 2004. Late Triassic microvertebrates from the lower Chinle Group (Otischalkian-Adamanian: Carnian), southwestern U.S.A. New Mexico Museum of Natural History & Science Bulletin 27:1-170.

    Hunt, A.P. 1989. A new ?ornithischian dinosaur from the Bull Canyon Formation (Upper Triassic) of east-central New Mexico: pp. 355-358 in S.G. Lucas and A.P. Hunt (eds.), Dawn of the Age of Dinosaurs in the American Southwest. New Mexico Museum of Natural History, Albuquerque.

    Hunt, A.P. 1994. Vertebrate paleontology and biostratigraphy of the Bull Canyon Formation (Chinle Group, Upper Triassic), east-central New Mexico with revisions of the families Metoposauridae (Amphibia: Temnospondyli) and Parasuchidae (Reptilia:Archosauria). Unpublished PhD Dissertation, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, 404 pp.

    Hunt, A.P., and S.G. Lucas. 1994. Ornithischian dinosaurs from the Upper Triassic of the United States: pp. 227-241 in N.C. Fraser and H.-D. Sues (eds.), In the Shadow of the Dinosaurs: Early Mesozoic Tetrapods. Cambridge University Press, New York.

    Hunt, A.P., S.G. Lucas, A.B. Heckert, R.M. Sullivan, and M.G. Lockley. 1998. Late Triassic dinosaurs from the western United States. Geobios 31:511-531.

    Hunt, A.P., and S.G. Lucas. 2005. The postcranial skeleton of Revueltosaurus callenderi (Archosauria: Crurotarsi) from the Upper Triassic Bull Canyon Formation of east-central New Mexico. New Mexico Geology 27(2):53.
    Download Here

    Hunt, A.P., S.G. Lucas, J.A. Spielmann. 2005. The postcranial skeleton of Revueltosaurus callenderi (Archosauria: Crurotarsi) from the Upper Triassic of Arizona and New Mexico, USA. New Mexico Museum of Natural History & Science Bulletin 29:67-76.

    Long, R.A., and P.A. Murry. 1995. Late Triassic (Carnian and Norian) tetrapods from the southwestern United States. New Mexico Museum of Natural History & Science Bulletin 4:1-254.

  45. #45 Dr Vector
    April 20, 2007

    we visited the NMMNH collections and recognized by comparison with our material that these specimens were referable to Revueltosaurus callenderi, but we decided not to include them in our publication because we felt that publishing on Adrian Hunt’s unpublished dissertation specimens would not be ethical.

    So. Parker et al. refrained from publishing some specimens that were part of Hunt’s dissertation 10 years before and they didn’t want to pre-empt him, only to have their own unpublished discovery on that animal rushed into print in less than four months in an abstract by…Hunt and Lucas. Who were later joined on that paper by Spielmann, who along with Hunt, Lucas, and Heckert published the recent paper that bears such a striking similarity to Jeff Martz’s what? — unpublished thesis.

    Now that, Alanis, is irony.

    It’s also a couple of other things, but since we’re all being so polite and elliptical and circumlocutatory and generally not mentioning the big ole plagiariffic elephant here in the middle of the room, I won’t elaborate.

    Nor will I elaborate on the other irony here, that of an apparently bulletproof worker, with hundreds of publications, and his own pet journal, who is answerable only to his coauthor and former student, being corrected so often by graduate students — and then publishing their corrections as if he had discovered them himself.

    As Triassic colleagues, we let some of the NMMNH folks verbally know about our discovery…Very soon after our personal communication, an abstract co-authored by two NMMNH scientists…described how they had re-prepared some specimens and discovered that Revueltosaurus was a pseudosuchian archosaur, with no mention of our work or personal communication.

    Just so we’re all clear: those are the wages of collegiality at the NMMNH.

  46. #46 Warren B
    April 20, 2007

    “I feel your pain, but I’m not convinced. There are monographic descriptions of certain key Triassic crurotarsans every bit as good – if not far better – as some of the dinosaur literature that’s been used to create high-fidelity reconstructions. On aetosaurs, have you seen (for example) Sawin (1947), Long & Murry (1995) and Desojo & Baez (2005)? (full refs given in my articles). Note also that fairly decent skeletal reconstructions of some Triassic crurotarsan taxa already exist (they appear in works by Sereno, Paul, Parrish and Desojo & Baez), it’s just that they haven’t been used much.”

    He makes it sound so easy…

  47. #47 K. Zeigler
    April 21, 2007

    I’d like to touch briefly on Sarah’s post – I was the lay-out editor for the NMMNHS Bulletins for a couple of years, so I can provide some insight into the internal machinations of the bulletin series. All reviews of papers that were authored by in-house contributors were generally handed to other in-house folks like myself to review or were sent to colleagues who were good friends and on the same scientific page as the authors. Now, this does show that papers were sent to review (nominally), but it does make one wonder how fair of a review could be given when papers were NEVER sent to folks who did not agree with the authors.

    I know I did reject at least one paper I was asked to review simply because it was poorly written – i.e., the references were woefully incomplete, there were inappropriate blocks of text, specimens referred to by different identification numbers and other issues. Needless to say, that rejection was overlooked and the paper was published more or less as it was. So, a few months later, I resigned as lay-out editor.

    Another problem faced by bulletin lay-out editors for NMMNHS (not just me!) was that we were pressured to get these to press as fast as humanly possible. I know I put in more than one 24-hour binge lay-out session to get the gigantic Nonmarine Permian bulletin out by a fixed deadline (folks who were around me during that month before press know I was a zombie). Granted, that bulletin and its sister volume were designed to be given to conference attendees, but! With these kind of nearly impossible print deadlines, editing mistakes were abundant (and I apologize for those that got by me) and it was less likely that good, thorough papers would be included by in-house authors (or that good, honest reviews would be sought). Everything felt rushed and half-done. I do not offer this as any sort of excuse nor as a condemnation – merely an explanation of the behind-the-scenes madness that goes on with bulletin publishing in the Land of Enchantment.

    P.S. As noted by Bill, I will try to remember to sign my name to my posts (or sign as Paleomagician) – no confusion please! :)

  48. #48 B. J. Campbell
    April 22, 2007

    Having read all the unprofessional accusations and inunendo in this blog I’m reminded of this quote: “Great Spirits Have Always Encountered Violent Opposition From Mediocre Minds” –Einstein.

  49. #49 Darren Naish
    April 22, 2007

    That’s a very interesting perspective. Thank you for your comment.

  50. #50 Vin Morgan
    April 22, 2007

    The themes raised by Dr. Vector, Sarah and Kate concerning selection of peer reviewers, editorial quality control, haste a la a war-of-books mentality, and constant mixing the role of journal editor with publication coauthor all led to my decision back in 2003 to pull any further publication with NMMNH&S. My Bulletins 19 and 22, both published in the latter half of 2002, felt very pushed to publication without a good scrubbing and some much-needed polishing. The planned third one, I concluded, would fair no better.

    While I have no doubts about my essential research, themes, and facts, I constantly wonder whether my citations and attributions were correctly transcribed. I am still waiting for some cite-checker to pounce on some unfindable source, or a slight misquote, etc. I am also constantly pained whenever I come across the typos, stilted or awkward phrasing or clumsy expression in these two bulletins.

    The one and only review I have seen of these bulletins is glowing enough, but it was written by the former professor of a former NMMNH&S staffer that was involved in their publication. The reviewer paid special homage to the editing process, and that left me aghast. So, my mission now is to do much better this next time around, making sure that the peer reviewing, fact checking and editing processes lead to a comfortably reliable and more readable product.

    Interestingly, Bulletin 19 corrected an earlier Lucas viewpoint, published in a Swedish journal, as to Otto Zdansky and his role in the discovery of Peking Man. Better to have your name on the correction than not, no? But what kind of trail does that leave? It is like where’s Waldo? Either live with your mistakes or don’t make them: at least the rest of us will know who and where you are.

    As the editor-in-chief of a law review, by the way, it never occurred to me or any of my editors, all of us laboring mightily to review, cite-check and tighten up submissions made to us, to seek to put our names on any of them. Authoring and editing were two very separate capacities to us then. They still are to my mind. I was conflicted to have Bulletins 19 and 22 come out as they did and why someone would want their name on work the origins and development of which were not firsthand, or even entirely familiar, to them. But, at the time and as an outsider, I felt fortunate to have them come out at all in a paleontology-museum journal.

    I have had personal dealings with Mr. Spielmann as well, and I am not happy to note that my name was used without my knowledge or permission on a technical paper he published in a foreign journal. I am not competent to read or review that kind of paper and, to this moment, cannot even pronounce many of the terms in it. Retraction seemed futile when I learned of this incident ex post facto, but I assure all that I still have no idea what Spielmann’s paper is about.

  51. #51 Leidy's Ghost
    April 23, 2007

    Mr. Campbell: I must ask; when does a series of coincidences become a deliberate pattern? How long must one hold their tongue until it’s clear that something fishy is going on? As several commenters have noted, the described incidents are only the tip of the iceberg. There are many other stories about the same individual(s) that have yet to be told in a public forum; regardless of whether this forum is an appropriate venue, at some point it does no good to suppress these problems for fear of reprisal.

    If all of the NMMMNH team are innocent of the accusations put forth in this blog and these comments, I still lose respect for at least one individual for letting a co-editor, frequent collaborator, and co-author insert ad hominem attacks into a published article in a NMMNH&S Bulletin. Bulletin no. 35, Late Cretaceous Vertebrates from the Western Interior was published in 2006 and edited by Spencer G. Lucas and Robert M. Sullivan. At the end of a taxonomic review paper of pachycephalosaurid dinosaurs (Sullivan, 2006), the author and co-editor R.M. Sullivan added a “Note in Proof.” Responding to another paper published in the same volume by Williamson and Carr (2006), Sullivan proceeds to viciously attack the scientific integrity of these two authors:

    - “Williamson and Carr (2006) report on a specimen (TMP 81.27.24) that they have tentatively identified as the pachycephalosaurin cf. Stygimoloch. Unfortunately, they have misidentified this specimen, as they have done previously with so many others (Williamson and Carr, 2002) (see above).” (Sullivan, 2006; pg. 363)

    - “In summary, Williamson and Carr continue to misidentify pachycephalosaurid taxa based on a typological approach, which is a consistent pattern of these two authors. Their most recent contribution (Williamson and Carr, 2006) only further muddies the scientific literature, not only from a taxonomic and phylogenetic standpoint, but also a biostratigraphic one as well.” (Sullivan, 2006; pg. 364)

    This language simply has no place in the scientific literature. It is unconscionable that either editor let it be published. Furthermore, the fact that it was added in proof by the author (who was also a co-editor) meant that Williamson and Carr had no chance to respond. I begin to wonder about those “Great Spirits” you were talking about…

    P.S., you can read this paper for yourself here: A taxonomic review of the Pachycephalosauridae (Dinosauria: Ornithischia)

  52. #52 Dr Vector
    April 23, 2007

    all the unprofessional accusations and inunendo in this blog

    It’s only accusations and innuendo if it’s not documented. As Darren and many of the commenters have made clear, the pre-empting in the cases of Redondasuchus/Typothorax, Rioarribasuchus/Heliocanthus, and Revueltosaurus is well documented in the published record, and confirmed by the personal accounts of the people involved.

    What’s unprofessional is to pretend that these things didn’t happen, or that they don’t matter.

    Rebut, por favor.

    Also, just so no one thinks I’m hiding behind a pseudonym, Dr Vector is the nom de blog of Matt Wedel.

  53. #53 Vin Morgan
    April 24, 2007

    Wanted to also add, incidentally, that I do not agree with the notion that the NMMNH&S bulletin is self-publication. It is a publishing arm of the state of New Mexico and belongs to the people of that state. All the people and none individually. Its professional and ethical standards are governed by the state through the Office of Cultural Affairs. That is where this discussion, in my opinion, needs to go.

  54. #54 B. J. Campbell
    April 26, 2007

    To Leidy’s Ghost,

    You, Sir or Madam, lack the courage and the integrity to use your name on your messages to this blog. Therefore you do not deserve an answer from me to your comments.

  55. #55 Michael P. Taylor
    April 26, 2007

    Does that mean that if “Leidy’s Ghost” gives his/her real name, you have an answer waiting for the comments on Sullivan’s pachycephalosaur paper?

  56. #56 David Marjanovi?
    April 26, 2007

    To Leidy’s Ghost,

    You, Sir or Madam, lack the courage and the integrity to use your name on your messages to this blog. Therefore you do not deserve an answer from me to your comments.

    I don’t see how this isn’t an ad hominem argument. The issue is there, no matter who mentions it.

  57. #57 CuriousGeorgia
    April 26, 2007

    From Darren: Message removed following advice [sorry]

  58. #58 Vin Morgan
    April 26, 2007

    This attack on Kate is foul and cheap. Having been in the field and on projects with Kate, as well as a number of other NM people and others from other institutions, Kate’s ethics are 100% the finest. I have been observing various behaviors and practices among the paleontology crowd for over a decade now, as well as back through history, and Kate stands with the best.

  59. #59 Leidy's Ghost
    April 27, 2007

    I am concerned that if I post my real name, it would result in reprisals such as denied access to museum collections. Although I stand by my comments 100%, I prefer to limit politics interferring in my research. Perhaps I’m not so brave as the other people, but I’m willing to live with that.

    As an aside, to those who are not directly involved with the problems discussed on this blogpost, it is difficult to express how compelling these arguments are without hearing about all the other undocumented stories about the same individual(s).

  60. #60 ReBecca
    April 27, 2007

    Wow, this is quite the blog. Interesting comments as well.

    Posted by: B. J. Campbell: “To Leidy’s Ghost,
    You, Sir or Madam, lack the courage and the integrity to use your name on your messages to this blog. Therefore you do not deserve an answer from me to your comments.”

    That is sad. I think the comment posted speaks for itself. Its not like they made it up, you can go read the paper yourself. What difference does it make who wrote it, what they point out in an observable fact. The fact that it was even published in that manner is tacky IMO. The absence or presence of the authors name who posted the comment does not change the facts they present. Sometimes in paleo it pays to watch your ass, because it is hard to remove the knife from your back once it is there.

  61. #61 Also Curious, Not In Georgia
    April 27, 2007

    since darren’s original blog is about ethics, perhaps he should investigate and write about the ethics of k. zeigler et al.

    You mean that one time, when she didn’t publish stuff from someone else’s master’s thesis as her own discovery? Or maybe you mean that other time, when she failed to use confidential information offered in good faith to pre-empt the people who offered it? Or maybe it was that time that she published an acknowledgments section without any ad hominem attacks?

    Seriously, what’s your evidence here? Can you document anything? Because divulging the big secret that Kate is the target of the NMMNH rumor mill has only increased my admiration for her.

  62. #62 B. J. Campbell
    April 27, 2007

    To David Marjanovic: I could not agree more. Most of what is on this blog is ad hominem. Other words that could be applied include: defamation, villafication, vituperation, character assasination and libel.

    To Doctor Vector AKA Matt Wedel: Thanks for coming out, Matt. Now I know you are an unemployed student with no particular scientific accomplishments.

  63. #63 Michael P. Taylor
    April 27, 2007

    I would like the join the chorus, too, asking CuriousGeorgia exactly what Kate Zeigler is accused of. The thing about Darren’s original post, and followup stories that have been posted in the comments, is that every one of them has been supported by easy-to-find, out-in-the-open published literature. I trust that CuriousGeorgia’s allegations will be similarly supported.

  64. #64 Darren Naish
    April 27, 2007

    Please read the following carefully before you consider posting any further comments to this article.

    As some of you are aware, several recent commenters have made direct accusations concerning specific individuals. Under advice, I strongly urge readers to stick to the matter in hand (i.e., the content and implications of the article your comments are appended to) and to avoid anything that approaches character assassination or name-calling. Due to legal concerns, any further comments of this sort will not be posted. Readers are advised that they have the opportunity to remove any posts that they now wish to retract (email me at eotyrannus at gmail dot com).

    I emphasise that I am acting under advice and urge all who wish to comment to be cautious in their choice of wording and in what they say about others. Thanks.

  65. #65 Michael P. Taylor
    April 27, 2007

    To Doctor Vector AKA Matt Wedel: Thanks for coming out, Matt. Now I know you are an unemployed student with no particular scientific accomplishments.

    Yes,
    Matt’s
    publication
    record
    certainly
    does
    suck.
    What
    a
    loser.

  66. #66 David Marjanovi?
    April 27, 2007

    To David Marjanovic: I could not agree more. Most of what is on this blog is ad hominem. Other words that could be applied include: defamation, villafication, vituperation, character assasination and libel.

    “Ad hominem argument” means to shoot the messenger instead of the argument. It is not synonymous with “being unfriendly”.

    To Doctor Vector AKA Matt Wedel: Thanks for coming out, Matt. Now I know you are an unemployed student with no particular scientific accomplishments.

    Not only is this again an ad hominem argument (whether what he says is true or not does not depend on his scientific accomplishments or his employment), it’s not even true. Check out his publication list. I am the one with no particular scientific accomplishments, not he.

  67. #67 K. Zeigler
    April 28, 2007

    Wow. I guess being out in the field for a few days means things get wild. I did not see the original post that riled everyone up with regards to myself, but I can guess at its contents based on responses.

    Let me say now that I stand beside my research 100%. I have NEVER knowingly or deliberately taken another person’s work as my own (and my published papers should prove this) – any research I have authored or co-authored was either my own or done collaboratively with another person (yes, I realize there were issues with the work at the Snyder Quarry, but that again has its foundations deeply set in NMMNH politics).

    If I unwittingly stepped on someone’s toes, then my deepest apologies to you. And, as pointed out by other folks posting to this, be careful what you accuse someone of – unless you can back it up (as did “Leidy’s Ghost”).

  68. #68 K. Zeigler
    April 28, 2007

    To get the conversation back on track, may I ask (mostly because I just don’t know), what are the alternatives out there for dealing with plagiarism? Should one go through the university if a student is involved? Are there laws out there in the “real world” that apply to this? It seems like this would just be good information for all of us to be aware of given the allegations initially raised in Darren’s blog.

    And, for the record, the fiery personal battles and viciousness of vert paleo ego-clashes were among the primary reasons I left VP and headed for paleomag. Yeah, we bicker and feud too, but the pure vindictiveness doesn’t seem quite so strong … I hope it can be toned down a little in the future …

  69. #69 Vin Morgan
    April 28, 2007

    A number of professions have ethics standards and committees to oversee them. Medicine, for example. And, certainly some recent well-known professors and authors have undergone scrutiny and consequence for plagiarism. I can’t attest to what how paleontology or a museum works in this regard. But, as I noted above, the New Mexico Office of Cultural Affairs connection to this discussion may bring in application of New Mexico state standards as well. I remember signing a document as to NMMNH&S Bulletins 19 and 22 attesting that I would conform to New Mexico state laws and standards. My impression was that included ethics.

  70. #70 Jerry D. Harris
    April 29, 2007

    Jeez, you don’t check a thread for a while, and see what happens…?!? I can’t fathom what anyone would have against Kate Zeigler, and I’m glad to see that Darren yanked that attack, whatever it said. I just want to say that I will also personally vouch for Kate’s integrity, not to mention her drive and abilities, all of which are top-notch. I’d put her science up against Matt’s or Darren’s, for that matter, none of which has any reason to be impugned and all of which is excellent and quite valuable!

  71. #71 Sarah Werning
    April 29, 2007

    K. Zeigler wrote: what are the alternatives out there for dealing with plagiarism? Should one go through the university if a student is involved?

    —-

    With students, it’s always a good idea to discuss these kinds of situations with your advisor/committee members before doing anything, but I think in general, this is a good guide to follow:

    Probably the first step in any instance of possible academic dishonesty should be to approach the other person and ask them about it. This gives that person an opportunity to explain what happened. We all know of cases where two people had a similar novel idea at about the same time (Charles Darwin and Alfred Russel Wallace come to mind). If they can show you that their idea was independent of yours, then it’s obviously not a problem of academic dishonesty. Even if your publication predates theirs by a few years, it may be that they hadn’t read your work (As a paleo prof of mine once said, “Those who do not read the literature are doomed to repeat it”), in which case it’s also a legit error. In some cases, it’s possible that they made a genuinely honest mistake in forgetting to acknowledge your work or a past conversation. In those cases they may apologize and later issue an erratum or acknowledge the mistake in a future publication (e.g., in later editions of Origin, Darwin acknowledged others who had similar ideas about natural selection, even in a few cases where they didn’t publish them!). At any rate, your first (and ideally all) discussions with the other author should be polite, given that the situation could turn out to be innocuous.

    If the other person doesn’t respond to your inquiry (and you’re sure they’re not in the field or on vacation), or if after speaking with them you still have good reason to suspect unethical behavior, you can deal with the situation in a couple of ways. If you’re a student, you can ask your advisor, another committee member, or departmental chair to speak to the other person on your behalf, because s/he probably has more clout than you do and may be taken more seriously. S/he may also be more sensitive to academic politics of which you might be unaware. Regardless of your student status, you can send a letter to the editor of the journal, or its editorial board, or the governing body of the journal asking them to intercede. Most (if not all) journals have policies on how to deal with academic dishonesty; it’s in their best interest not to tolerate plagiarism or unethical behavior. If it’s a cut-and-dry case, you can bet that most journals will issue a retraction and apology (see how Science responded to Hwang et al. 2004, 2005 here ). If the situation involves two journals, you can also contact the editor of the journal in which your work appeared, and they may intercede on your behalf (it?s also in their interest not to have your work plagiarized).

    Above all, it’s a good idea to remain professional when handling any delicate issue. In almost every situation, it pays to be seen as the reasonable and rational party, and in almost every case, these things can be handled privately or with the journal/s that published the problematic piece/s.

    References:

    Hwang, WS, et al. 2004. Evidence of a pluripotent human embryonic stem cell line derived from a cloned blastocyst. Science 303: 1669-1674. DOI: 10.1126/science.1094515

    Hwang, WS, et al. 2005. Patient-specific embryonic stem cells derived from human SCNT blastocysts. Science 308: 1777-1783. DOI: 10.1126/science.1112286

  72. #72 K. Zeigler
    April 30, 2007

    Sarah – what an excellent review of the steps to take! Thank you so much – I for one am glad to have this info posted. My concern at this point would be what to do if the publication in question does not have an overseeing board (which I do not believe that the NMMNH Bulletins do – even though I was on the editorial board, there was no “oversight committee”).

    This gets a little tricky, as Vin Morgan and others noted, because of the odd hierarchy involved with New Mexico museums in that they fall under the jurisdiction of the Office of Cultural Affairs – and this rather odd entity oversees a number of “cultural” institutions outside of the museums. So we come to the problem of a university and its student attempting to communicate with a rather nebulous organization that may not have any system in place to deal with plagiarism or similar issues.

  73. #73 chris b
    April 30, 2007

    I would argue that vertebrate paleontologists, by and large, are neither more nor less prone to being vindictive, dishonest jerks than other scientists. I say this as a vertebrate paleontologist myself, and as someone who has associated with other scientists in a variety of capacities (including marital!) over the past several years. But there are some phenomena that inflate the appearance of bloodthirstiness. One of these has already been mentioned – institutional politics. If you think this is unique to vertebrate paleontology among the sciences, you need to spend time in a wider range of scientific environments.

    Another is population density. Among some groups, the specialist-to-specimen ratio drops rapidly. As this happens, territoriality rises. This is especially true as you approach the origins of tetrapods, birds, and hominids – lots of people interested in a finite amount of material. This is why I usually discourage new grad students from working on dinosaurs; it’s much harder to carve out your own niche with them.

    I normally work on crocodylians. When I visit museums to look at fossil or modern crocs, I’m often handed the key to the collections and not seen again for a couple of weeks. No one cares. But when I worked on tyrannosaurs for my postdoc, I noticed a different tone among some collections staff – more concern, for example, was expressed over which specimens I looked at and photographed. And this made sense; more people are working on tyrannosaurs, and there was concern that a student currently working with a given specimen might have his/her work scooped. My wife has a physical anthro background, and from what she describes, the situation is far more stringent among primate experts.

    Any time territoriality is involved, tempers will flare. And in this particular case, the systematics of Late Triassic-Early Jurassic continental vertebrates from the American Southwest is the subject of intense study by several groups. Trespass is inevitable, deliberate or otherwise.

    Add to this the problem of personality conflict. Some vertebrate paleontologists have personality issues regardless of any other factors. This is no more true for us than for any other field of human endeavor, but if it coincides with a crowded field of study, the problems it creates can be magnified. (This is certainly true in this case.)

    Bottom line – the horror stories discussed here are not common to the entire field of study.

  74. #74 Vin Morgan
    April 30, 2007

    With respect to Chris B.’s post, this discussion is not a general indictment of paleontologists, scientists or any other professional group. Plagiarism is not a simple behavorial problem that varies in all of us to some degree–it’s a violation. Nor is it sufficient to say that we’ll steer students out of dinosaur study, or even out of paleontology, or otherwise find a way to skirt the issue. This discussion began with a specific question about specific people in specific publication(s) concerning a specific topic(s) within which other general improper behavior might also apply.

    Is there an issue here, is it serious and, if so, what should be done about it?

  75. #75 David Marjanovi?
    April 30, 2007

    My wife has a physical anthro background, and from what she describes, the situation is far more stringent among primate experts.

    I suppose this partially explains the proverb: “The closer you get to humans, the worse the science gets.”

  76. #76 chris b
    May 1, 2007

    Vin – Agreed, the overall discussion is not about whether paleontologists are more contemptible than other scientists. I was responding to specific statements making this implication and not trying to characterize the whole discussion. Sorry for not being clear.

  77. #77 Dr Vector
    May 2, 2007

    Plagiarism is not a simple behavorial problem that varies in all of us to some degree–it’s a violation. Nor is it sufficient to say that we’ll steer students out of dinosaur study, or even out of paleontology, or otherwise find a way to skirt the issue.

    I agree. This issue ought to be too big to skirt, but it seems that many people are content to let it pass unremarked–and unpunished. I really hope that these incidents have some repercussions that are more serious than some sarcastic comments on one blog post.

    Also, let me reiterate that if anything that I’ve said in any of my comments can be shown to be false or misleading, I’ll happily retract it and trumpet the good news. We’d all be a lot happier if there were innocent explanations for all of these incidents. The facts that there are so many incidents to choose from, and that no innocent explanations have appeared for any of them, are highly suggestive in their own right.

    Please correct me. Please.

  78. #78 Vin Morgan
    May 2, 2007

    Accepted, Chris B. Thanks. Agreed as well, Dr. Vector.

    For those curious, here is the website for the New Mexico Office of Cultural Affairs:

    http://www.nmoca.org/

    Clearly they have an oversight role in this matter, as does the NMMNH&S director and any relevant funding agency. While I am an independent project, I have a vested interest (through prior publication with) in the questions raised by this blog and will endorse any formal inquiry into them.

  79. #79 Vin Morgan
    May 3, 2007

    Hot tip: New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson is running for president of the US. Questions about publications arising out of the NMMNH&S’s paleontology department could be directed to him. No? Great chess move: worst he can say is that he’ll have it looked into.

    By the way, is this silence I’m hearing? Where are all those dino spokespeople I so often see or hear scrambling to be quoted about this and that? Are we suddenly publicity shy? Where’s the leadership, the mentors, the centurions?

  80. #80 K. Zeigler
    May 3, 2007

    Hi all –

    Chris B. – you’re right, of course. Sorry for the implications my post raised for paleontologist behavior. I guess I just got the bad end of the deal and it soured me a bit. So, apologies to all – no hurt feelings meant.

    As for Vin M.’s post – there have been a couple major anti-corruption events in N.M. in the past 2-3 years. I imagine this might be a good time to bring this matter to the attention of the O.C.A? Don’t know, but it is worth consideration, I should think. There are other folk out there who have raised this same point privately to me (they cannot post on this blog for fear of retribution). But then we raise the sticky question, to my mind, of who is the appropriate person to contact OCA and ask for their advice on dealing with their institution’s apparent lack of ethics …

  81. #81 lnJeff
    May 4, 2007

    Warning: Parental discretion advised.

    Chris B wrote: “…more people are working on tyrannosaurs, and there was concern that a student currently working with a given specimen might have his/her work scooped…Any time territoriality is involved, tempers will flare. And in this particular case, the systematics of Late Triassic-Early Jurassic continental vertebrates from the American Southwest is the subject of intense study by several groups. Trespass is inevitable, deliberate or otherwise.”

    I have never felt, or detected, much defensiveness working with the vast majority of workers on Triassic vertebrates that I have communicated with. In dealing especially with Bill Parker, Randy Irmis, Sterling Nesbitt, Axel Hungerbeuhler, Bryan Small, Michelle Stocker, Jonathan Weinbaum, Kate Zeigler, and Bill Mueller, there has certainly been the potential for squashed toes. My dissertation deals with the biostratigraphy of TTU’s material from the Dockum Group, and will include quite a few “pers. comms.” from these workers on the taxonomic status of particular specimens in the Tech collections; but only with permission. They have all been exceedingly generous in sharing unpublished observations, even on things they don’t want me to cite, and I am being careful to respect thier wishes. Similarly, I have never felt many reservations about sharing my own unpublished observations with anyone in this group, including ones I will probably not get around to publishing for a long while. “Don’t screw over your colleagues” it is a fairly easy precept to follow, and makes things a lot more pleasant for everyone. Being able to share this unublished info with a group you can trust also minimizes the possibility of stubbed toes, since it enables projects to be planned ahead in a way to avoid conflict. Detailed descriptions of important Late Triassic vertebrate material are still very much lacking, and there are enough good projects to go around.

    It blows my mind that there are individuals out there who are willing to increase the amount of tension and animosity in this field just to sustain thier diarrheic production of papers. I am not to terribly concerned about them describing important material before me. Given the general quality of these publications, it just means I will have something to redescribe properly later, and if I do a good job, THAT will be the primary reference on that material. You can do fast work or good work, but few can do both. I think Alick Walker only produced about 20 papers his entire career, and he got a commemorative volume. To use a crude metaphor, this is the difference between wanting to be the world’s greatest lover and simply wanting to be in the Guiness Book of World Records for boning the largest number of people, spending an average of thirty seconds on each one and leaving them all sullen and unsatisfied. This metaphor works on many levels and I am quite proud of it.

    I want to be a great lover, baby.

    Jeff Martz

  82. #82 Vin Morgan
    May 4, 2007

    Apt metaphor, Jeff. In my own little corner of this, I’m now realizing I will have to redo NMMNH&S Bulletins 19 and 22.

  83. #83 B Parker
    May 4, 2007

    Vin Morgan wrote:
    >>Apt metaphor, Jeff. In my own little corner of this, I’m now realizing I will have to redo NMMNH&S Bulletins 19 and 22.<<

    Vin,

    I see the potential for a really, really great book covering all aspects of your research on Granger!

  84. #84 Vin Morgan
    May 4, 2007

    Many thanks, Bill…it’s in the works and hopefully it will meet expectations.

  85. #85 Vin Morgan
    May 24, 2007

    Related news: “05/23/2007 07:13:55 PM

    Hunt leaves natural history museum for Washington

    ALBUQUERQUE (AP) – The man who has directed the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science for the past four years has resigned to head a military airplane collection in Washington state.

    Adrian Hunt will take over the Flying Heritage Collection, a collection of 20th century military aviation by Microsoft co-founder Paul G. Allen.

    The collection will move from Arlington, Wash., to Everett, Wash., later this year.

    Hunt came to the museum in Albuquerque after six years with Mesalands Dinosaur Museum in Tucumcari.

    The natural history museum?s curator of paleontology, Spencer Lucas, will be interim director while museum trustees search for a new director.”

    From here.

  86. #86 Anonymous
    May 24, 2007

    Well lucky for us all that Adrian Hunt will no longer be the Director at NMMNH as of July 2007! He will be working in Seattle at an Air Plane Museum!!?? Unfortunately his replacement is going to be his “Mini-me” Spencer Lucas and I am sure that he will not be able to fix the low morale of the NMMNH staff and the broken budget that Adrian Hunt leaves behind!!!!!!!

  87. #87 Raymond
    May 26, 2007

    Darren, you and I are fellows in arms.
    You like to stir the shitpot and hide behind a bough just to see what everyone else will do;)

    But seriously, great post on aetosaurs.I’ve always been fascinated by triassic “thecodonts” (crurotarsans for the most part) and especially by the aetosaurs.Can’t wait for the new skeletal reconstructions.

    BTW, good luck to ye on your new job.

  88. #88 joanne
    June 6, 2007

    Adrian Hunt was hand picked by one of the richest men in the universe, Paul Allen, to run his new museum. who would turn down an opportunity like that?? I don’t think any of you would. Dr. Hunt is well respected in the musuem world and that is a fact. I wish him well and will forever admire his work.

  89. #89 Also Curious, Not In Georgia
    June 8, 2007

    I wish him well and will forever admire his work.

    Would that be the co-authoring so many ethically dubious papers work, or the facilitating his old advisor’s self-publication work, or some other work I don’t know about?

  90. #90 joanne
    June 8, 2007

    that’s for me to know and you to find out!! Good luck Dr.Hunt!! I wish you well.

  91. #91 Vin Morgan
    June 13, 2007

    In the old days, the captain would have stayed with the ship.

  92. #92 Mike Keesey
    February 5, 2008

    Desmatosuchus is a particularly large and robust aetosaur, first named by Ermine Cowles Case (1871-1953) in 1920, but originally described by E. D. Cope (1840-1897) in 1892 as Episcoposaurus.

    Hey, wait a sec — so why isn’t Episcoposaurus valid?

  93. #93 Christopher Taylor
    February 6, 2008

    Hey, wait a sec — so why isn’t Episcoposaurus valid?

    The wonders of Google reveal that the type species of Episcoposaurus, E. horridus, is a junior synonym of Typothorax coccinarum, so Episcoposaurus is a synonym of Typothorax.

  94. #94 Christopher Taylor
    February 6, 2008

    And that comes from the very paper by Parker that names Heliocanthus, by the way.

  95. #95 Mike Keesey
    February 6, 2008

    Derp–that’s what I get for having enough time to comment but not enough to read.

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