Tetrapod Zoology

Unhappy with Aerosteon

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If you’ve been keeping an eye on the newswires you’ll have seen that a very exciting new theropod dinosaur was described about a week ago now: Aerosteon riocoloradensis Sereno et al., 2008, an allosaurid allosauroid from the Santonian Anacleto Formation of Mendoza Province, Argentina. Hooray again for open-access publishing: Sereno et al. (2008) is published in PLoS ONE, and as such is 100%, no-holds-barred, open-access for the whole world (Fig. 16 from Sereno et al. (2008) shown here]. There is no question that Aerosteon is a neat animal and a very significant discovery. We have here a non-avian theropod – one positioned right down at the base of the tetanuran radiation to boot – that doesn’t just have the vertebral pneumaticity that is widespread and normal for saurischian dinosaurs, it also has a pneumatic furcula and ilium and even – shock horror – pneumatic gastralia…

I can understand that, to those not involved in primary research on dinosaurs (and not about to go and suddenly read up on several decades of primary literature), this research might look as innovative, ground-breaking and novel as implied. Indeed, some articles in the blogosphere make it look as if this is the first thing that anyone has ever written on skeletal pneumaticity in dinosaurs. However, those of us involved in research on post-cranial pneumaticity in dinosaurs are not entirely happy with the paper, for two reasons.

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Firstly, whereas other people who have recently published on post-cranial pneumaticity have argued that pneumatisation of the posterior part of the vertebral column indicates the presence of abdominal air sacs like those seen in birds (e.g., Britt 1997, Wedel 2003a, b, 2005, 2007, O’Connor & Claessens 2005, O’Connor 2007), Sereno et al. (2008) cite work on ostriches to promote the idea that cervical air sacs were responsible for pneumatising the entire vertebral column, arguing that ‘paraxial cervical air sacs extended posteriorly along the [vertebral] column’ (p. 3). This is really odd, because comprehensive and compelling research on extant birds by O’Connor & Claessens (2005) showed that this is, so far as we can tell, never the case: at most, cervical air sacs extend (in the skeleton) only as far back as the mid-dorsals, and never further. Furthermore, the work on ostriches that Sereno et al. (2008) cite emphatically does not support the model they promote. Could non-avian saurischians have been different from birds? That’s not impossible, but it would require a special solution when one is not needed. For a very comprehensive review and further discussion please see Matt Wedel’s article at SV-POW! In total contrast to what Sereno et al. (2008) state, we can be very confident that bird-like abdominal air sacs were present in non-avian saurischians [the non-tetanuran Majungasaurus, reconstructed with abdominal air sacs by O'Connor & Claessens (2005), shown in adjacent image].

Secondly, what also makes this paper odd is that the authors don’t credit other workers where it would be appropriate. Given the very careful and extensive work done on extant birds by O’Connor and Claessens (2005), for example, they are under-cited and even discussed by Sereno et al. (2008) as having presented an alternative, erroneous model. And where Sereno et al. (2008) mention an idea that is not novel to their study, they fail to give credit where it’s due. For example, they note that a ‘new basal theropod close to Eoraptor‘ possesses pneumatic cavities of some sort (they consistently use the problematic, ambiguous term ‘pleurocoel’) in its mid-cervical vertebrae: an observation which suggests that the air sac system evolved right down at the base of Saurischia. The presence of a new basal saurischian (as you may know, Eoraptor may not really be a theropod, but might instead be outside of a theropod + sauropodomorph clade within Saurischia) with pneumatic cavities would indeed be neat, but the observation made by Sereno et al. (2008) is exactly the same as that made previously by Britt (1997), O’Connor (2006) and Wedel (2006, 2007). Wedel (2006, 2007) did not of course have a ‘new basal theropod close to Eoraptor‘ – instead, he used boring old Coelophysis and Theco- – Pantydraco – but I would submit that it was unjust and unfair of Sereno et al. (2008) not to cite him [diagram below, from Wedel (2006), shows position of vertebral pneumatic cavities in juvenile Gallus, Coelophysis and Theco- - Pantydraco].

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Aerosteon is neat and significant, and there’s no doubt in my opinion that its description should have appeared in a high-profile, quality publication. But the support of an erroneous model that flatly contradicts everything we know (viz, the idea that cervical air sacs can pneumatise posterior dorsals, sacrals and caudals and that this is more likely than the presence of bird-like abdominal air sacs), and the unfair criticism and non-citation of the work of others have meant that it will be less well-received than it should have been. Please see the SV-POW! articles here and here for a more in-depth look. On the plus side, it provides quite the incentive to push some other in-prep papers up the list in terms of priority.

Refs – –

Britt, B. B. 1997. Postcranial pneumaticity. In Currie, P. J. & Padian, K. (eds). The Encyclopedia of Dinosaurs. Academic Press (San Diego), pp. 590-593.

O’Connor, P. M. 2006. Postcranial pneumaticity: an evaluation of soft-tissue influences on the postcranial skeleton and the reconstruction of pulmonary anatomy in archosaurs. Journal of Morphology 267, 1199-1226.

- . 2007. The postcranial axial skeleton of Majungasaurus crenatissimus (Theropoda: Abelisauridae) from the Late Cretaceous of Madagascar. Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology 27 (Supp 2), 127-162.

- . & Claessens, L. P. A. M. 2005. Basic avian pulmonary design and flow-through ventilation in non-avian theropod dinosaurs. Nature 436, 253-256.

Sereno, P. C., Martinez, R. N., Wilson, J. A., Varricchio, D. J., Alcober, O. A. & Larsson, H. C. E. 2008. Evidence for avian intrathoracic air sacs in a new predatory dinosaur from Argentina. PLoS ONE 3(9): e3303. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0003303

Wedel, M. J. 2003a. Vertebral pneumaticity, air sacs, and the physiology of sauropod dinosaurs. Paleobiology 29, 243-255.

- . 2003b. The evolution of vertebral pneumaticity in sauropod dinosaurs. Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology 23, 344-357.

- . 2005. Postcranial skeletal pneumaticity in sauropods and its implications for mass estimates. In Wilson, J. A. & Curry-Rogers, K. (eds). The Sauropods: Evolution and Paleobiology. University of California Press (Berkeley), pp. 201-228.

- . 2006. Origin of postcranial skeletal pneumaticity in dinosaurs. Integrative Zoology 2, 80-85.

- . 2007. What pneumaticity tells us about ‘prosauropods’, and vice versa. Special Papers in Palaeontology 77, 207-222.

Comments

  1. #1 Neil
    October 6, 2008

    Interesting stuff. I came across this paper before but didnt realise (not being a theropod expert) all this other stuff was going on. Will you be commenting on the other major tetrapod paper published in the last week the DASORNIS from the London Clay of Sheppey? I made a rather lame attempt* on my blog before I could get hold of the paper (Richard duly obliged when I asked him) but I would be nice to have a link to say “and for a proper in depth version go here”

    *=the lame attempt can be found here: http://my.opera.com/Ukwildlife/blog/dasornis-a-giant-fossil-bird

  2. #2 William Miller
    October 6, 2008

    What is the deal with “Pantydraco”? Why would someone pick that name?

  3. #3 SteveF
    October 6, 2008

    Thanks for this Darren, very interesting for a non-specialist like myself. Oh and if you are really interested, here is the creationist response, which, er, isn’t very good:

    http://creationsafaris.com/crev200809.htm#20080929a

  4. #4 Zach Miller
    October 6, 2008

    Wow. I, too, thought that some of Sereno, et al.’s comments were inappropriate, such as where they blast the work on Majungatholus, as you mentioned above.

  5. #5 David Marjanovi?
    October 6, 2008

    Why would someone pick that name?

    Because the poor beast is from the Pant-y-ffynon quarry in Wales.

    where they blast the work on Majungatholus

    …which was synonymised with Majungasaurus in the monograph, when the holotype turned out to be diagnostic after all.

  6. #6 Mike Hanson
    October 6, 2008

    Warning: Bad name rant ahead!

    The name Pantydraco comes from the location where it was disovered, I guess that makes it an even worse choice—in addition to sounding like it means underwear dragon, underneath it all it is another one of those annoying, boring place-name-o-saurs.

    It could be that the palæontologists who named it were unaware of dialectal differences in the names for articles of clothing and wouldn’t name it ‘Knickerdraco’ if that was an option, but I know the Brits are quite well aware of the more ‘American’ (if you can call it that) undergarment terminology, so the question still stands as to why such a name would be chosen, the ‘purely place name excuse’ is no good—the original place name is Pant-y-ffynnon, meaning ‘valley of the spring’, ‘pant-y’ just means ‘valley of the’, which doesn’t make any sense on its own and could be the beginning of any numbver of place names.

  7. #7 Zach Miller
    October 6, 2008

    Bah–I know the name is Mujungasaurus, but I like Mujungatholus more!! -tholus 4EVR!

  8. #8 Jerzy
    October 6, 2008

    How are air sacs (connected to respiratory system) possible in bones which move a lot? Birds’ air sacs are very fragile and puncturing one is serious injury to lethal for a bird. Birds have little flexibility in backbone, but theropods probably had.

  9. #9 William Miller
    October 6, 2008

    So it means “valley-of-the dragon”? Can this be, officially, the worst dinosaur name ever?

  10. #10 Christopher Taylor
    October 6, 2008

    No, the worst dinosaur name ever is Altispinax. There are dinosaur systematists that still scream in their sleep when the dread Altispinax intrudes into their dreams.

  11. #11 Mike Hanson
    October 6, 2008

    Megapnosaurus: Worst dinosaur name ever… but entomologists came up with that one, and we all know entomologists live in their own bizarre world when it comes to names, so it could be excusable, but it was also given wuthout the permission of the dinosaur’s original describer’s permission, so I guess that cancels out any excusability…

    You can also take your pick of any unoriginal Chinese place-name-o-saurus.

    And there are also Mei and Tsaagan, generic names for which the meanings don’t make sense without their type species alongside, and likely will not make sense with the name of any species that may be assigned to them in the future.

  12. #12 Mickey Mortimer
    October 6, 2008

    Sereno et al. never identify Aerosteon as an allosaurid, just a non-carcharodontosaurid ‘basal tetanurine’. However, the high angle between anterior and ventral postorbital processes, notched anterior preacetabular margin and tapered postacetabular blade look similar to coelurosaurs. The only carnosaurian character I’ve found so far is the anteriorly angled posterior dorsal neural spine. The postorbitals of Aerosteon and Orkoraptor look extremely similar to me, and both taxa also have pneumatic foramina in their caudal centra.

  13. #13 Vasha
    October 6, 2008

    And there’s a herbivorous dinosaur that got given a bloodthirsty name, isn’t there?

  14. #14 William Miller
    October 7, 2008

    What’s wrong with Altispinax? It seems to mean “high spine”.

    I thought Megapnosaurus was funny…

  15. #15 Randy
    October 7, 2008

    Vasha – the crocodile-line archosaurs called phytosaurs were unfortunately named. They are most definitely carnivorous, but their name means “plant-lizard/reptile”.

    Mickey – Sereno et al do place Aerosteon in Allosauroidea in the Systematic Paleontology section of the paper (see bottom of page 3).

  16. #16 Dartian
    October 7, 2008

    So it means “valley-of-the dragon”? Can this be, officially, the worst dinosaur name ever?

    Bambiraptor, anyone?

  17. #17 Dave Hone
    October 7, 2008

    Ozraptor, Condorraptor, Microraptor, Ultrasaurus, I could go on.

    Oh, and as for Xenoposeidon, WTF? :)

  18. #18 Darren Naish
    October 7, 2008

    Mickey wrote…

    Sereno et al. never identify Aerosteon as an allosaurid, just a non-carcharodontosaurid ‘basal tetanurine’.

    I know, I borrowed the allosaurid ID from a Tom Holtz comment. Sereno et al. do note in a few places that Aerosteon seems most similar to Allosaurus within Allosauroidea.

    However, the high angle between anterior and ventral postorbital processes, notched anterior preacetabular margin and tapered postacetabular blade look similar to coelurosaurs.

    The notched margin looks like breakage: look at the medial view in Fig. 13B. The post-acetabular blade is not as shallow as it is in coelurosaurs, plus there are some non-coelurosaurs that have a slightly tapered look too (e.g., ‘Szechuanosauruszigongensis)

    Vasha says…

    And there’s a herbivorous dinosaur that got given a bloodthirsty name, isn’t there?

    You might be thinking of Sarcolestes the ankylosaur?

  19. #19 David Marjanovi?
    October 7, 2008

    the original place name is Pant-y-ffynnon

    Oh, yes, with double n. Sorry.

    No, the worst dinosaur name ever is Altispinax. There are dinosaur systematists that still scream in their sleep when the dread Altispinax intrudes into their dreams.

    The name isn’t bad at all. What’s bad is that the holotype of the wretched beast is an isolated tooth from Germany, not the vertebrae from England that it’s named for.

    but it was also given wuthout the permission of the dinosaur’s original describer’s permission, so I guess that cancels out any excusability…

    Well, the ICZN urges people to “make a serious attempt” to contact the original describer in such cases; Ivie et al. said they had made one and had (erroneously) been told Raath was dead. You know what that “serious attempt” consisted of? Of writing a letter to a white man in Zimbabwe in 2000. How naïve can one be!

    And then, the Greek is wrong; it should have been Megalapnoosaurus. But it’s way too late to repair that.

    And there are also Mei and Tsaagan, generic names for which the meanings don’t make sense without their type species alongside

    And Tsaagan is yet worse, because the Mongolian word in question is not “tsaagan”, it’s “tsagaan” (??????). Same, incidentally, for Tyrannosaurus bataar, named after the word “baatar” (??????).

    At least Mei could be interpreted as a pun; the stated etymology is “mèi” (“to sleep soundly” in Classical Chinese), but one can easily imagine that “m?i” (“beautiful”) also played a role.

    Bambiraptor, anyone?

    Why? It’s exactly the right size to “rob Bambi”, disembowel it, and slice it to stripes. B-)

  20. #20 Andrea Cau
    October 7, 2008

    A suggestion:

    If Majungatholus shows with good evidence that the abdominal sacs are a synapomorphy of “Ceratosauria + Tetanurae”, the absence of evidence supporting a clavicular sacs in non-tetanuran theropods may indicate that the pulmonary system of ceratosaurs was an hybrid, functionally intermediate between those of non-saurischian and the tetanuran (ex-avian) system. Is interesting to note that the costal-vertebral articulation in abelisaurid posterior dorsals was able of a greater range of motion than other theropods: the absence of clavicular sacs was “balanced” by a greater excursion of the rib-cage?

  21. #21 Thomas R. Holtz, Jr.
    October 7, 2008

    Although in this paper Sereno et al. do not identify the phylogenetic position of Aerosteon, in their press releases they state that it is most closely related to Allosaurus and is the last representative of a group more characteristic of the Jurassic.

  22. #22 Michael P. Taylor
    October 7, 2008

    At least Mei could be interpreted as a pun; the stated etymology is “m�i” (“to sleep soundly” in Classical Chinese), but one can easily imagine that “mÄ›i” (“beautiful”) also played a role.

    I like the way several dinosaur names seem to have subtle puns built in. I have no idea whether they were deliberate or not, but Chasmosaurus belli (beautiful) springs to mind, as well as Supersaurus vivianae (alive). I know I’ve noticed others, but can’t call them to mind. Anyone?

  23. #23 Bradley Fierstine
    October 7, 2008

    Subtle puns in dinosaur names:-

    Pantydraco: I have a dragon in my pants
    Erectopus: my pet cat is sitting up straight
    Eustreptospondylus: someone has truly twisted my spondylus
    Saltopus: my pet cat went swimming in the sea
    Minmi: I need to be minned
    Mei long: me, I am long

    How childish.

  24. #24 Tilsim
    October 7, 2008

    Chasmosaurus belli (beautiful) springs to mind, as well as Supersaurus vivianae (alive).

    It would seem that C. belli was named after a man called Bell, and S. vivianae after a woman called Vivian.

  25. #25 Michael P. Taylor
    October 7, 2008

    Tilsim: Well, duh! Were it not so, then “beautiful” and “alive” would not be puns, but etymologies.

  26. #26 Andreas Johansson
    October 7, 2008

    My somewhat provincial complaint about Mei is that it sounds like the Swedish word for “me”. You can imagine the frustration about trying to take about the thing in Swedish.

  27. #27 Andreas Johansson
    October 7, 2008

    Gah. That’s supposed to be “… trying to talk about …”, of course.

  28. #28 Brad McFeeters
    October 7, 2008

    The sauropod Cathartesaura has a good pun in its name.

  29. #29 Zach Miller
    October 7, 2008

    It doesn’t get a whole lot worse than Futalognkosaurus dukei, a name that causes those attempting to pronounce it to weep.

  30. #30 Monado
    October 7, 2008

    Well, er, is Wonderpus photogenicus a real species name for a prettily striped octopus?

  31. #31 Boesse
    October 7, 2008

    Not a bad name, but instead a really, really, awesome one:

    Fubarichthys. FUBAR as in ‘f****d up beyond all recognition, but others may prefer a more mild ‘fouled up…’

    http://www.fossilmall.com/EDCOPE_Enterprises/fish/fishfossils65/fish-fossils-65.htm

  32. #32 David Marjanovi?
    October 7, 2008

    It doesn’t get a whole lot worse than Futalognkosaurus dukei, a name that causes those attempting to pronounce it to weep.

    That’s because it contains a mistake so obvious that the ICZN even mandates correcting it: it’s ng, not gn. (The ICZN website doesn’t work at the moment; I’ll post the link later.)

    Fubarichthys.

    Too cool… :-)

  33. #33 William Miller
    October 7, 2008

    Fubarichthys? Wow, that’s awesome…

    What’s the deal with the gn/ng in Futathingymajiggy?

    Not extinct, but the one that really confuses me is Fratercula. “Little brother”, but feminine? Huh? If they ever split a species, the new specific name needs to be wtffia.

  34. #34 Dr. Nick
    October 8, 2008

    Quoth Darren:

    a very exciting new theropod dinosaur was described about a week ago now: Aerosteon riocoloradensis

    A. riocoloradense (osteon is neuter).

  35. #35 Jaime A. Headden
    October 8, 2008

    I must disagree with some of the sentiments regarding Megapnosaurus. Not only was the name badly coined, the name was coined as a joke referrence to an outsider’s view on dinosaurs, or in fact, vertebrates. To refer to a taxon as a “big dead lizard” was in fact, meant humorously without any concept of the idea of naming dinosaurs, or vertebrates. Seriousness was suspended for the sake of an entomologist who got to name a dinosaur, but should not have. At least ONE vertebrate researcher could have been included for the sake of the work, but was not.

  36. #36 David Marjanovi?
    October 8, 2008

    Yes, Fratercula does not compute.

    Regarding Megapnosaurus, we don’t really have to use that name. We can simply lump it into Coelophysis

  37. #37 Mike Taylor (edinburgh)
    October 8, 2008

    On entomologists, let’s be fair to the poor folk. Some of my best colleagues are entomologists! Surely more often it’s the fault of vertebrate palaeontologists for not checking their genus hasn’t been preempted by some infernal beetle or other.

    And of course, if we’re getting all classical about Atlantic Puffins, it depends on the gender of the root noun. Frater and therefore (I expect) its diminutive Fraterculus, analogous to the Scots quintuple diminutive wee bittie puffinockie,are indeed masculine gender, so it’s not one of those confusing words for male things which is feminine in gender (or vice versa), as confirmed by memory of school lessons backed up by a quick look at Perseus classics resource (www.perseus.tufts.edu – very useful for any taxonomist or anyone reading e.g. the posh quotations in Richard Owen on the Homologies of the Vertebrate Body, like me when writing a review of the reprint edition, though in that last case Owen managed to mistranscribe an irregular verb and I had to seek help …). However, Fratria (feminine) is sister in law. So did Linnaeus have a bad day back in 1758 and misspell fratriacula? He obviously intended feminine gender by using the epithet arctica.

    If there is anything odd about a taxonomic name’s citation, I always check the original citation to see if it throws any light, but that is one book that doesn’t seem to be on the net – anyone know of a free copy in the original Latin edition? And I doubt Linnaeus would have explained …

    Mind you, if Fratercula were a new name and isn’t a Latin word, cannot it be any gender or declension the taxonomist likes? How about 3rd declension neuter, for instance?

  38. #38 Darren Naish
    October 8, 2008

    The Atlantic puffin started out as Alca arctica Linnaeus, 1758, being given the generic name Fratercula by Brisson in 1760. Brisson regarded Fratercula as feminine and so kept arctica too. Quite why Fratercula – ‘little brother’ – is feminine I don’t know, but apparently it is. This is an often remarked upon curiosity of avian nomenclature.

    How the hell did we get to here?

  39. #39 David Marjanovi?
    October 8, 2008

    Surely more often it’s the fault of vertebrate palaeontologists for not checking their genus hasn’t been preempted by some infernal beetle or other.

    In fact, Michael Raath had his own replacement name in the pipeline.

    Mind you, if Fratercula were a new name and isn’t a Latin word, cannot it be any gender or declension the taxonomist likes?

    You can make up genders for made-up words. For example, says Article 30.2.2 of the ICZN, Jackmahoneya is masculine because its describer, for reasons known solely to himself, said so in the original publication.

  40. #40 Randy
    October 8, 2008

    David;

    Why is Futalognkosaurus a mistake? They consistently spell it that way in the original paper. It is only a false cognate of “foot long”. The authors describe the etymology as “From the Mapuche indigenous language: Futa meaning giant and lognko meaning chief” (Calvo et al. 2007).

    Also, Michael Raath is not proposing a replacement name as far as I know; he simply placed “S.rhodesiensis in the genus Coelophysis (Bristowe & Raath 2004).

    Bristowe, A., and M.A. Raath. 2004. A juvenile coelophysoid skull from the Early Jurassic of Zimbabwe, and the synonymy of Coelophysis and Syntarsus. Palaeontologia Africana 40:31-41.

    Calvo, J.O., J.D. Porfiri, B.J. Gonzalez-Riga and A.W.A. Kellner. 2007. A new Cretaceous terrestrial ecosystem from Gondwana with the description of a new sauropod dinosaur. Anais da Academia Brasileira de Ciencias 79(3):529-541.

  41. #41 Christopher Taylor
    October 8, 2008

    This is one of those very rare occassions where David is wrong. The spelling Futalognkosaurus is quite perfectly valid, awkward as it is.

  42. #42 William Miller
    October 9, 2008

    So, if they can use a name that unpronounceable, what keeps me from naming a dinosaur something nonsensical like Wdgneyhoyukrwth (etymology: hitting random keys on the keyboard)? (Assuming I had a specimen, of course…)

  43. #43 Matt Wedel
    October 9, 2008

    Wdgneyhoyukrwth (etymology: hitting random keys on the keyboard)

    No, I’m pretty sure that is another place in Wales. Type locality of Wdgneydraco, IIRC.

  44. #44 David Marjanovi?
    October 9, 2008

    “From the Mapuche indigenous language: Futa meaning giant and lognko meaning chief”

    Yes, and that’s not lognko, that’s longko. (Same word that has already given us Loncosaurus, incidentally.) If you say you name a species after Linnaeus and consistently spell it ninnaei, that is an Incorrect Original Spelling and is automatically corrected — to cite the example that Article 32.5.1.1 uses.

    The only way to save the silly spelling would be to claim that gn is a specially ad-hoc made-up Latinization for the sound [?], even though this has never been done before, and even though Mapudungun/Mapuzungun already has several orthographies. Trying to convince the ICZN of that is really not worth it.

    The origin of the spelling must be that ngk didn’t make sense to the Spanish-speaking authors; either they misread it, or they thought there could be a gn pronounced like in French or Italian. There is such a sound (i. e., [?]) in that language, just not in this word, which incidentally occurs on the main page of the Mapudungun Wikimedia incubator (which will grow into a Wikipedia if enough people contribute) as well as on the English Wikipedia article on Mapudungun.

    Incidentally, [?], apparently spelled ng in all proposed orthographies, is a very common sound in this language and can occur even at the beginnings of words. [?] appears to be spelled ñ by everyone, like in Spanish, unsurprisingly.

    Also, Michael Raath is not proposing a replacement name as far as I know;

    I’m told he had one in the pipeline. Obviously he had to give that up when Megapnosaurus came out.

    Wdgneyhoyukrwth

    That’s what you call unpronounceable? :-)

  45. #45 Jorge Camara
    October 9, 2008

    Well some names when analysed in portuguese also are fun, I remember these two:

    Dinheirosaurus – “Moneysaurus” (yes, who even tried to name the beach from it comes as Porto Dinheiro?)
    Venenosaurus – “Poisonsaurus” (yes, I know this one was intended to be Poison… but couldn’t they just chose another name?)

    By convention couldn’t we just make rhodesiensis a species of Coelophysis?

    And Basilosaurus anyone?

  46. #46 Andreas Johansson
    October 9, 2008

    The ICZN says:

    32.5.1. If there is in the original publication itself, without recourse to any external source of information, clear evidence of an inadvertent error, such as a lapsus calami or a copyist’s or printer’s error, it must be corrected.

    (my emphasis)

    Since one, as far as I understand, cannot tell from the paper itself that “lognko” is wrong the original spelling is not to be corrected. The situation is not analoguous to the “ninnaei for Linnaeus” example, but to one saying “ninnaei for Ninnaeus” – it may be clear to those in the know that Linnaeus was meant but you can’t tell solely from the publication itself.

  47. #47 David Marjanovi?
    October 9, 2008

    And what if said Ninnaeus is described in the publication, say, as having authored Systema Naturæ? Are you sure that wouldn’t count? Because Calvo et al. state unambiguously that they’re talking about the “Mapuche indigenous language” word for “chief”.

  48. #48 Andreas Johansson
    October 9, 2008

    I won’t claim certainty, but I don’t see how else the passage I quoted can be interpreted. That the author of the Systema Naturae was actually called Linnaeus is something I know from external sources, not the hypothetical publication.

  49. #49 Tommy Tyrberg
    October 10, 2008

    Is “Wdgneyhoyukrwth” really that much worse than e. g. Ekgmowechashala (the last North-American primate)?

    Also now when we have quite a few Italian dinosaur, we can perhaps also have some Croatian ones. I am really looking forward to species named for places like Krk and Trg.

  50. #50 Darren Naish
    October 10, 2008

    For those who don’t know, Ekgmowechashala McDonald, 1963 is an Oligocene omomyiform primate, its name is from the Sioux for ‘little cat man’. To add insult to injury, Szalay (1976) erected Ekgmowechashalinae and McKenna & Bell (1997) coined the new ‘subtribe’ Ekgmowechashalini.

  51. #51 David Marjanovi?
    October 10, 2008

    Oh, it’s D/N/Lakhota? Then we have it easy: the gm part has a schwa in the middle. If you want, I’ll dig up links to sources tomorrow.

    BTW, I’ve read several times that it’s “fox”; this is the first time I see “cat”. There are no native cats smaller than a bobcat in North America, right? Did the Sioux exapt their “fox” word to mean “cat”?

    Syllabic [r] is cool. =8-)

  52. #52 Christopher Taylor
    October 10, 2008

    We do have Apodemus krkensis (a rodent) and Fontogammarus krkensis (an amphipod). There’s also Szczurekia (a harvestman).

    To be honest, “Wdgneyhoyukrwth” doesn’t look that bad to me. I just read “Ood-nyee-ho-yoo-krooth” and I’m happy.

  53. #53 Dr. Nick
    October 11, 2008

    Ha! I sneer at “Wdgneyhoyukrwth”: I’ve studied Salishan languages!

  54. #54 William Miller
    October 11, 2008

    Interesting, I would have said it “Wud-nee-hoy-uk-ruth”.

    Isn’t there a rule that it has to be pronounceable? Would naming something Cthulhu rlyeh break that rule? Who defines pronounceable?

  55. #55 Christopher Taylor
    October 11, 2008

    While I have a vague memory of a rule about pronounceability in earlier versions of the Code (I could be wrong), the current Code doesn’t actually have a rule as such. The closest I could find is Recommendation 25C – “Authors should exercise reasonable care and consideration in forming new names to ensure that they are chosen with their subsequent users in mind and that, as far as possible, they are appropriate, compact, euphonious, memorable, and do not cause offence“. Being a recommendation rather than a rule, it is debatable how significant this actually is.

    As amply demonstrated by this comment thread, the problem with an actual rule requiring pronounceability would be that pronounceability is very much in the tongue of the pronouncer. English-speaking researchers might have conniptions when required to say “Szczurekia“, but a Hungarian researcher probably wouldn’t even blink.

  56. #56 Christopher Taylor
    October 11, 2008

    Of course, when presented with “unpronounceable” letter combinations, English-speaking researchers can always just do what they do with Pteranodon or Tmesipteris, which is simply to fluff it entirely and just rely on no-one else noticing ;-).

  57. #57 David Marjanovi?
    October 11, 2008

    Would naming something Cthulhu rlyeh break that rule?

    Why?

    Who defines pronounceable?

    Nobody.

    English-speaking researchers might have conniptions when required to say “Szczurekia“, but a Hungarian researcher probably wouldn’t even blink.

    It’s Polish, where sz is “sh” and cz is “ch”. Very simple.

    If it were Hungarian, where s alone is “sh”, sz is “s”, and cz is an outdated way of writing “ts” (nowadays just c), it’d be just as simple, though. Except for the Hungarians. Hungarian has strong constraints on consonant clusters! For example, its currency is the forint, whose name is derived from a Florentinian gold coin, and “Greek” and “Turk” are görög and török.

    The Salishan languages on the other hand… check it out, you wouldn’t believe me.

  58. #58 Dartian
    October 12, 2008

    Christopher Taylor:

    Of course, when presented with “unpronounceable” letter combinations, English-speaking researchers can always just do what they do with Pteranodon or Tmesipteris, which is simply to fluff it entirely and just rely on no-one else noticing ;-).

    “It is the inalienable right of every Englishman to pronounce foreign words exactly as he pleases.” -Winston Churchill

  59. #59 Sarah
    November 2, 2008

    Would naming something Cthulhu rlyeh break that rule?
    Why?

    Because the true pronunciation cannot be replicated by humans, who apparently lack the anatomical equipment to pronounce it correctly. This is according to HP Lovecraft, who would be the authority in this case.

  60. #60 David Marjanovi?
    November 3, 2008

    Because the true pronunciation cannot be replicated by humans

    Fine, but the string of letters is still pronounceable. :-)

  61. #61 markus
    November 21, 2008

    The name “Szczurekia” is Polish – “szczurek” means “small rat” or maybe “young rat” ;-) All the names cited above are quite simple – imagine “Gammaracanthuskytodermogammarus loricatobaikalensis” – some kind of amphipod…

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