What's in a name? A dino by any other name would seem just as fierce

Posted By: Nitsi
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London, Sept 25 (ANI): Some palaeontologists may have discovered the most new dinosaur species, but when it comes to naming them, they are least likely to get it right, says a new study.

Some names turned out to be attached to already known species, as in the case of Brontosaurus, named in 1879 but later discovered to be the same as Apatosaurus, named in 1877.

Some researchers decide that the original material is inadequate to determine what the species might be, while there are some that turn out not even to be dinosaurs.

Names given by the 23 most prolific palaeontologists have proved especially vulnerable to such pitfalls. Only 274 out of 665 names, or 41percent, are still in use.

The remaining 735 dinosaur names were the work of almost 300 authors. These have been more robust: 444, or 60percent, are still in use.

"It is hard, and maybe impossible, to construct a case that experience in naming dinosaurs makes one better at the job," Nature quoted Michael Benton at the University of Bristol, UK, as saying.

Benton suggests two reasons for the trend - use of the taxonomic slang, meaning to subdivide species rather than ascribing small differences between similar fossils to, say, sex differences or individual variation.

Second, dedicated dinosaur hunters may have been especially driven by the kudos or extra funding that can come with naming new species and so may have jumped at each chance.

However, naming a dinosaur isn't all that easy - there are no genomes to sequence, and often only a few bones are known and some mistakes, such as those resulting from changing definitions of what counts as a dinosaur, could not have been anticipated.honghe Zhou, director of the IVPP, said that the low success rates seen for some scientists did not diminish their greatness.

"The greatness of a researcher is in the mind of his colleagues, not in the statistics," he said.

The study is published in the Journal of Vertebrate Palaeontology. (ANI)

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