Cetiosaurus nomenclature, redux — comments from Paul Barrett and Pete Galton
July 6, 2009
For those of you who care about such things, the new issue 66(2) of the Bulletin of Zoological Nomenclature contains two comments on our petition to the ICZN to fix Cetiosaurus oxoniensis as the type species of the historically important genus Cetiosaurus (Upchurch et al. 2009) — both of them supporting the proposal (Barrett 2009 and Galton 2009).
Paul Barrett wrote (in part):
Cetiosaurus was the first sauropod dinosaur to be scientifically described (Owen, 1841) and one of the earliest dinosaurs to be recognised: the taxon is clearly of historical importance and stabilising its taxonomy would represent an important contribution to dinosaur studies.
Cetiosaurus is not only a historically important taxon, but also one that has been used to specify other groups within Dinosauria, including Cetiosauridae. In addition, Ornithischia, one of the major dinosaur sub-groups, has been defined as all dinosaurs that are more closely related to Iguanodon than they are to Cetiosaurus (Norman et al., 2004).
(I’d completely missed that use of Cetiosaurus as an external specifier for Ornithischia, which I suppose just goes to show that I should pay more attention to the ornithischian literature.)
Pete Galton wrote (in part):
It should be noted that the “Monograph of the genus Cetiosaurus” by Owen (1875) is based almost entirely on the Bletchington Station material of C. oxoniensis (Owen even used Phillips’ figures!). Also, as noted by Galton & Knoll (2006), the family CETIOSAURIDAE Lydekker, 1888 is based on C. oxoniensis Phillips, 1871 because Lydekker (1888, p. 137) indicated it as being the type species of Cetiosaurus Owen.
More good arguments there for the conservation of prevalent usage by formally recognising C. oxoniensis.
Anyone else who has strong feelings on this subject, either way, should get them in writing to the Executive Secretary, ICZN., c/o Natural History Museum, Cromwell Road, London SW7 5BD, U.K. (e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org).
- Barrett, Paul B. 2009. Comment on the proposed conservation of usage of Cetiosaurus Owen, designation of Cetiosaurus oxoniensis Phillips, 1871 as the type species [comment 1 of 2]. Bulletin of Zoological Nomenclature 66(2): 187-188.
- Galton, Peter M. 2009. Comment on the proposed conservation of usage of Cetiosaurus Owen, designation of Cetiosaurus oxoniensis Phillips, 1871 as the type species [comment 2 of 2]. Bulletin of Zoological Nomenclature 66(2): 187-188.
- Galton, Peter M., and Fabien Knoll. 2006. A saurischian dinosaur braincase from the Middle Jurassic (Bathonian) near Oxford, England: from the theropod Megalosaurus or the sauropod Cetiosaurus? Geological Magazine 143: 905921.
- Lydekker, Richard. 1888. Catalogue of the fossil Reptilia and Amphibia in the British Museum (Natural History), Cromwell Road, S.W. Part 1. Containing the orders Ornithosauria, Crocodylia, Dinosauria, Squamata, Rhynchocephalia, and Proterosauria. British Museum (Natural History), London.
- Norman, David B., Lawrence M. Witmer, and David B. Weishampel. 2004. Basal Ornithischia. pp. 325334 in David B. Weishampel, Peter Dodson and Halszka Osmólska (eds.), The Dinosauria, Second edition. University of California Press, Berkeley and Los Angeles. 861 pp.
- Owen, Richard. 1841. A description of a portion of the skeleton of Cetiosaurus, a gigantic extinct saurian occurring in the Oolitic Formation of different parts of England. Proceedings of the Geological Society of London 3: 457-462.
- Owen, Richard. 1875. Monograph of the Mesozoic Reptilia, part 2: Monograph on the genus Cetiosaurus. Palaeontolographical Society Monograph 29: 2743 and plate X.
- Phillips, John. 1871. Geology of Oxford and the Valley of the Thames. Clarendon Press, Oxford.
- Upchurch, Paul and John Martin. 2002. The Rutland Cetiosaurus: the anatomy and relationships of a Middle Jurassic British sauropod dinosaur. Palaeontology, 45(6): 1049-1074.
- Upchurch, Paul, John Martin, and Michael P. Taylor. 2009. Case 3472: Cetiosaurus Owen, 1841 (Dinosauria, Sauropoda): proposed conservation of usage by designation of Cetiosaurus oxoniensis Phillips, 1871 as the type species. Bulletin of Zoological Nomenclature 66(1): 51-55.