Notes on Early Mesozoic Theropods and the future of zoological nomenclature

June 8, 2010

The big noise on the Dinosaur Mailing List at the moment is this thread about Rob Gay’s newly self-published book Notes on Early Mesozoic Theropods, which you can buy from print-on-demand house  (You can also pay to download a PDF if you prefer.)

The interesting thing about about this book is that it contains nomenclatural acts — specifically it names the new theropod Kayentavenator elysiae.  But is this act valid according to the ICZN?  Opinions differ.  The fact that the work was self-published is irrelevant — the Code simply doesn’t care about that.  Beyond this, in the book itself, Gay contends that:

Those that are concerned about the naming of a new genus in this format should not be. The availability and distribution requirements are more than met—the relevant institutions have received a copy for their records. In addition “Notes on Early Mesozoic Theropods” will remain available to all who wish to purchase it online, as well as those stores that chose to carry it, for the foreseeable future—far surpassing the availability of many other high profile publications to those anywhere on the globe.

He feels that this satisfies the relevant articles of the code:

8.1. Criteria to be met. A work must satisfy the following criteria:

  • 8.1.1. it must be issued for the purpose of providing a public and permanent scientific record,
  • 8.1.2. it must be obtainable, when first issued, free of charge or by purchase, and
  • 8.1.3. it must have been produced in an edition containing simultaneously obtainable copies by a method that assures numerous identical and durable copies.

The first thing to say is that Gay would have done himself a favour if his preface had discussed these articles specifically and explained how he felt they were fulfilled: by making only the more general statement above, he’s left matters more open to discussion; or at least forfeited the opportunity to get in a good, strong, opening statement in the inevitable debate.

My own feeling, based on a couple of years on the ICZN mailing list and having witnessed many such discussions between the Commissioners and other specialist nomenclaturists, is that a print-on-demand publication like this does not meet requirement 8.1.3 (“simultaneously obtainable copies by a method that assures numerous identical and durable copies”) — it’s because of this requirement that PLoS ONE has had to adopt its frankly rather silly policy of printing 50 hardcopies of each article it publishes that contains nomenclatural acts, rather than just printing copies on demand for anyone who wants them.

[There has also been some talk on the list about whether this book counts as published under Article 8.6, “Works produced after 1999 by a method that does not employ printing on paper”, but there’s no room for debate about that.  That Article states that such a work “must contain a statement that copies (in the form in which it is published) have been deposited in at least 5 major publicly accessible libraries which are identified by name in the work itself”, which is not the case for this book.]

So what?

But the real question is: so what?  The Commission will never produce a ruling on this — it just doesn’t do that, unless presented with a formal petition to conserve a subsequently published name for the same taxon.  So in practice, whatever the code says, the reality is that the validity of the name Kayentavenator elysiae will — like the validity of all other names — be determined by whether and how it actually gets used in subsequent work.

In short, it comes down to this: when the next paper comes out on that animal, will it use Gay’s name, or will the worker in question erect his own name for the same animal and claim that it has priority as the first validly published name?

And that in turn comes down to — let’s be frank — the personality of that next worker.  We all know of scientists whose goal seems to be to get their name on as many publications and taxa as possible; we all know others who are more concerned with giving credit where it’s due.  It seems strange that something like the effective validity of a zoological name should be determined by a personality, but that’s how it looks.

As a side-issue, the way I read this is that Gay has done himself a huge disfavour by charging a fee to download the PDF version of his book.  If he wants his work to be accepted, then the best way is to make sure anyone who is remotely interested can get get hold of it with minimal inconvenience and at zero cost.  It may seem odd, but the truth is that Kayentavenator elysiae‘s chances of survival are dependent far more on marketing than on any other factor; so the PDFs should be made freely and easily available.

The sky is falling!  The sky is falling!

Tim Williams was one of several commenters on the DML to make this point:

This is a HUGE concern.  Especially because advances in technology mean that self-publication is now much cheaper than it used to be.  All you need is a computer and a printer, and off you go.

This has been true for some time. If anything, it’s surprising that we don’t see a lot more rogue taxonomy than we do, especially in a field as charismatic as dinosaur palaeontology. For some reason, extant animals seem (so far) to have suffered much more from this than we have — see for example Raymond Hoser, whose self-published taxonomic works have been widely referred to as “taxonomic vandalism” and whose name has been used in the term “Hoser taxonomy”.

I think we’re deluding ourselves if we think this isn’t coming to dinosaur palaeo.

The widely expressed fear is that “anyone, regardless of knowledge and abilities, will be able to create valid taxa without any restraints” (Dan Chure to the DML).  Because “when it comes to what constitutes a published work, Article 8 of the ICZN Code is so vague and permissive that it is laughably easy to meet the criteria” (Tim Williams again).

All true.

Unfortunately, it’s not a simple matter of tightening the language up. Even if the ICZN didn’t move so agonisingly slowly, it’s not really possible to give a rigorous definition of “valid publication”. You could come up with whatever form of words you wanted, and I (if I were sufficiently unethical) could find a way to make an end-run around it.

In particular, requiring peer-review (while a step in the right direction) would not solve the problem: then you have to define what “peer-review” means, and as we’ve seen in certain articles published in in-house journals in recent years, that concept is also slippery.

Here’s where I think this is going. Ultimately, the validity or otherwise of names is always decided by the working taxonomic (and more broadly biological) community. Until recently, the broader community has been able to delegate the process to journals in most cases, because it was easy to see what a “journal” was: it had a publisher, it was printed on glossy paper, and it came out on a regular schedule. It was easy to see whether a given work was in a journal or not.

That is changing very fast. By most of the criteria above, PLoS ONE is not a “journal” (no publisher but itself, no printing on paper, and no regular schedule) yet I don’t think anyone is going to claim it’s not a journal. Although I think PLoS ONE is a wonderful thing (I’ll be sending my own work there), one of its deleterious side-effects is that it, along with Palaeontologia Electronica and others, has shifted people’s ideas of what is “published”. One can easily imagine, say, a museum setting up its own PLoS-like journal — maybe a reputable one, maybe a less reputable one. From there it’s a short slide to a department, a small group or even an individual setting up his own journal. We have to face the facts that (A) it’s going to be hard to say what is and isn’t a “journal” and (B) we have no way of checking, in general, that “peer-review” is meaningful and adequate.

So I see only two possible paths.

One is that names will get published here, there and everywhere — ultimately even on blogs (although we don’t plan to go down that path here on SV-POW!) — and it will be up to the community to determine what is and isn’t counted as valid.

The other possibility is that a formal name-registration database like ZooBank comes swinging in to save the day, and only registered names are considered valid (or only registered names and those published before, say, 2012).

Unfortunately, ZooBank seems to be the only candidate registration system in town, and it’s in trouble: grotesquely underfunded, the work of basically one person, consequently well behind schedule and by no means ready technically or organisationally to do what it’s intended to do.  (I mean no criticism of any individual in saying this, but those are the facts.)

The way forward?

It seems that nomenclatural anarchy is inevitable unless something like ZooBank takes off rapidly.  So if I were rich and influential, one of the main things I’d be doing would be to pour that money and influence into ZooBank, getting it up to speed as soon as possible and making sure the infrastructure is in place to handle a lot of regsitrations really quickly.  Because the current de facto approach of delegating the assessment of legitimacy to journals is on the way out: I give it less than ten years.

But given that science is chronically underfunded, and zoology funded less than most sciences, and zoological nomenclature less than most of the rest of the zoology, I am not optimistic than this can be made to fly.  the bottom line for ZooBank is that it’s not anyone’s full-time or primary job; and until it is, there’s always going to be something else more urgent that pushes out this work that is merely important.  (Actually it’s urgent, too, but because the deadlines are soft rather than hard, the urgency isn’t apparent — we’ll just all wake up one day and find that they’ve passed.)

I’m not happy about it, but my prediction is: nomenclatural anarchy.  For sure, names published in JVP will start out with a better chance than names published in print-on-demand books at, but that’s going to become a sliding scale rather than the clear black-and-white distinction we’ve been used to.

How bad is it?

I don’t know.  The truth is that lots of nomenclatural decisions are made by the community already, and somehow we all seem to survive.  I recently demonstrated, I thought conclusively, that the species formerly known as “Brachiosaurusbrancai cannot be considered congeneric with the Brachiosaurus type species B. altithorax, and must be considered to belong to its own genus Giraffatitan (Taylor 2009); but whether that reassignment is adopted is for the community to decide over the next few years.  I was disappointed to see that Chure et al. (2010), for poorly explained reasons, rejected this name; and I was pleased to see that Sander et al. (2010) accepted it.  But only time will tell whether it sticks.  And yet, somehow, we survive despite all this uncertainty.

Will it be so terrible if, in the same way, the published works of the community determine which nomenclatural acts are considered validly published?  Maybe not.


Third dorsal vertebra (FMNH PR 2209) of Rapetosaurus krausei in A, anterior view; B, posterior view; C, right lateral view. Abbreviations: acpl, anterior centroparapophyseal lamina; cprl, centroprezygapophyseal lamina; dp, diapophysis; pcdl, posterior centrodiapophyseal lamina; podl, postzygodiapophyseal lamina; posl, postspinal lamina; pozg, postzygapophysis; pp, parapophysis; ppdl, paradiapophyseal lamina; prdl, prezygodiapophyseal lamina; prpl, prezygoparapophyseal lamina; prsl, prespinal lamina; przg, prezygapophysis; spdl, spinodiapophyseal lamina. Scale bar equals 3 cm. (Curry Rogers 2009:fig. 16)



97 Responses to “Notes on Early Mesozoic Theropods and the future of zoological nomenclature”

  1. For my part, I think Kayentavenator is a validly published name, as I don’t see how you can say it’s not available in “simultaneously obtainable copies by a method that assures numerous identical and durable copies”. Its taxonomic validity is another matter, and I’ll probably be blogging on that soon.

    However, I don’t understand how people can complain about its price when it’s only $2.75. That’s not free, but it is an order of magnitude lower than nearly every paper from standard journals. Surely that’s a good step towards the Shiny Digital Future.

    I also don’t understand the concern about anyone being able to name taxa. Surely with all the crap that is published by professionals (insert your favorite example here), we don’t have the right to be so elitist. I think it’s about time to admit that peer review doesn’t weed out bad ideas, it just makes it a bit more tedious to find a venue for them. Besides, the things people worry about are already happening in the peer reviewed literature. Just look at Diceratus er… I mean Nedoceratops. The only difference is that we knew about Kayentavenator the day it was published, while it took two years for anyone to notice an article in Zoosystematica Rossica.

    Finally, I don’t see how a database like ZooBank will help. How does ZooBank decide which nomenclatural acts are valid, after all? If they just accept any registration attempt then nothing’s changed, and if they have criteria to be met then we’ve only shifted the responsibility from the ICZN to them.

  2. qilong Says:

    “Publication” has always meant something quite different from production in a journal or a book: shows that only public access to a piece of writing or an illustration is required. You published this blog, after all.

    You draw an arbitrary line that would, in effect, remove PLOSOne from your outlets, including any taxonomic works you might have or would create, and would subsequently condemn from anyone else, and the same is true for Paleontologica Electronica. Because these are primarily electronic “journals,” and they only print the copies to satisfy the ICZN’s old requirement of “permanent” deposition, they should at the first be excluded from your concept of acceptable publications — but you then say you will submit further to them.

    Various publishing venues, from how some institutions run their own printing presses, to books, to leaflets/pamphlets, to online discussion forums, all arise within the spectrum of “published,” and drawing the line somewhere here to specifically remove Gay’s act from the list, as it appears you mean to, is horribly arbitrary and only done because it’s new. Why shouldn’t we also exclude the American Museum Novitates, or Breviora, which are produced by institutions, and were originally printed from those institutions own printers for transmission to its own members (not “the public”)? Originally, we would! But we don’t, and this is because the actual definition of “publication” is extremely broad.

  3. Mike Taylor Says:

    Mickey, my experience of how the experts on the ICZN mailing list have seen other questionable cases makes me think that they would consider the new name not validly published. But I could be wrong; more interestingly, so could they!

    You say “I don’t see how you can say it’s not available in “simultaneously obtainable copies by a method that assures numerous identical and durable copies”. The issue is that print-on-demand does not produce the copies simultaneously. Don’t shoot the messenger — this is what I hear on the mailing list.

    “However, I don’t understand how people can complain about its price when it’s only $2.75. That’s not free, but it is an order of magnitude lower than nearly every paper from standard journals. Surely that’s a good step towards the Shiny Digital Future.” Yes, it is; I just think it’s a misjudgement to charge at all given the difficulties this new taxon already has to overcome if it’s to be considered valid. As a matter of strategy, rather than ethics, Rob would have been wiser to make the PDF freely available (that’s “freely” both as in “free beer” and “free speech”.)

    “I also don’t understand the concern about anyone being able to name taxa.” I do. It’s true that professionals are capable of fouling up, but it’s still the case that they do so far less often than amateurs — all that training is of some value, you know! (Have you never been contacted by conspiracy-theorist dino-nutter amateurs? I have. I can live without those people publishing names, thanks!) Of course none of this is to say that only professionals should be allowed to publish names. (I say this not least because I, like you, am not a professional.) But it does mean that we would all benefit from an objective standard of what is “good enough” to count as publication … if only such a thing were possible. Elitism isn’t the issue here: it’s a simple matter of wanting things to be done well, whether by amateurs or professionals.

    “Surely with all the crap that is published by professionals (insert your favorite example here)” … Actually, I was careful not to :-)

    “I think it’s about time to admit that peer review doesn’t weed out bad ideas, it just makes it a bit more tedious to find a venue for them.” Ouch. Reading that hurts. Because I know it’s true. Actually it’s even worse than that: peer-review has a large component of crap-shoot, because there are habitually hostile reviewers out there who see it as their job to prevent publication of anything they can, and there are positive reviewers who see it as their job to help you improve your paper. I won’t name names, but we all know who’s who, and we all want editors to give our stuff to members of the second category. I am guessing it sometimes just comes down to who checks their email first.

    “Finally, I don’t see how a database like ZooBank will help. How does ZooBank decide which nomenclatural acts are valid, after all? If they just accept any registration attempt then nothing’s changed, and if they have criteria to be met then we’ve only shifted the responsibility from the ICZN to them.” Well, it’s just a matter of explicitness. Once something like ZooBank exists, there is a single place to go to in order to find out about a given name. That has value.

  4. Nick Gardner Says:

    I’m more concerned over whether the content itself was peer-reviewed. While self-publishing is an attractive route to take, we’ll have to wait until others in the field begin to review the work to know how useful it is. On the other hand, this could be a great opportunity for someone to submit a book review to a paleontology journal. ;-)

  5. Mike Taylor Says:

    Nick, Rob makes it clear that both papers were indeed peer-reviewed:

    For one of the two papers, it seems that his handling of the reviewers’ comments was OK’d by an editor; the other seems never to have got that far. Anyway, the level of peer-review seems to be at least up to the standards applied by some museum journals (not that that is necessarily saying much).

  6. Certainly the electronic publication proposals currentl7y being considered explicitly disqualify “print on demand” publications; as you say, the current code only makes the disqualification implicit.

    I actually think that the exclusion of print-on-demand is one of the more problematic points of the current rules. In the past, it hasn’t been much of an issue because it was unlikely that anyone would hear about a new publication until a certain number of copies were available; electronic publication has of course changed that entirely. As Mike himself has pointed out on many an occasion (including the infamous snotty little article title ;-P ), public awareness is now completely disconnected from print numbers.

  7. Bill Parker Says:

    >>Nick, Rob makes it clear that both papers were indeed peer-reviewed:<&lt;

    Sure, Rob states that they were peer-reviewed, but we don't know if they were accepted/rejected, we don't know if corrections were made. In most journals publication is dependent on the editor making the determination that recommendations were sufficiently covered.

    One thing no one has mentioned is that neither paper contains a published reference later than 2004 (except a single 2005 abstract). Surely something new and relevent has been published regarding basal neotheropods or cannibalism in Coelophysis in the last six years.

    In the past I've spoken out against self-publishing with no critical peer review and this is simply another case. Even if review was done around 2004 it is six years out of date. Things change rapidly in the field and these are simply no longer valid.

  8. OK, many issues here…

    * “simultaneously published” — I guess this boils down to what “simultaneously” means. In a traditional paper journal article or book chapter, individual pages are printed, assembled, and bound one after another in relatively short order — but not simultaneously. The only way simultaneity could be fulfilled is if every single issue/copy of a journal/book were published on its own individual printing press at the exact same moment as every other issue/copy, which is unfeasible for what I hope are obvious reasons. Print-on-demand simply lengthens the amount of time between printings. So what, then, is an acceptable amount of time between individual printings to make it “simultaneous”?

    Moreover, if Rob’s initial print run — the copies he says he reposited in five libraries — were all sent out at once, even if not printed within seconds of each other, then they were technically available to be examined by anyone with access to those libraries (and, with ILL, that’s a huge number of people!). Perhaps not available for purchase, but available in precisely the same way that a paper published in any journal or book would be: someone wanting access to it would have two basic options: check it out (or ILL) it from a library, or buy a copy. Print-on-demand isn’t any different in this respect. (But I agree that a free PDF would have been infinitely preferable!)

    * “peer review and publication” — others in this forum and I have previously discussed whether or not peer review should be a criterion to consider something “published”…I’m actually in favor of it, myself, in principle, but I agree that then defining what is and is not “peer review” is a hideous can of worms with no clear solutions of its own. All that aside, though, my understanding is that the ICZN rules, or lack thereof, concerning peer review harkens back to yon olden days of yore when not everyone had decent access to journals in terms of submission, and something much like self-publishing was more common and accepted. Increased globalization of distribution of scientific papers has, I think, led to the great decline of this practice, or at least the need to be concerned about it, except in, uh, a few isolated (if noticeable) cases. But in this respect, is Kayentavenator any different than, say, any of George Olshevsky’s species erected in his self-published (and distributed) Mesozoic Meanderings? Granted, that’s mostly theropods of dubious validity (Dinotyrannus or Jenghizkhan, anyone?), but there are some names that have persisted since he introduced them (Valdoraptor, Becklespinax, Ultrasauros). So if you’re going to discount Kayentavenator, then you also have to discount Ultrasauros on the same grounds: it was also self-published and, except for the first 100 issues that George sent to various paleontologists (and not even, to my knowledge, any libraries), was only available is someone asked George for one and he printed one. (OK, I see that two libraries list having this item, but I don’t know when they obtained it…) Granted, it’s a moot point with Ultrasaurus/Ultrasauros being subsumed into Supersaurus, but you get my point. And like Jaime said above, too: why do journals produced by individual institutions not qualify as “self-published”? I know from many past conversations that Mike, Matt, and Darren are violently against leaving the term “published” the purview of big publishing houses like Elsevier, Wiley, and Springer, so I wouldn’t think they would want to say that the likes of American Museum Novitates aren’t also “published.”

    * All this said, I fully agree that free PDFs would have been a very good solution, if only to soothe some of these other issues that even this option would not have mollified. Print copies still being available, and sent to some libraries, would still have been necessary for ICZN reasons and for the few people out there that still prefer hard copy (or both hard copy and PDF) for various reasons.

    * I will state here for the record that at least the Coelophysis cannibalism chapter of Rob’s booklet is peer-reviewed — I myself reviewed it years ago. Initially, it was something that Rob submitted to be published in the Triassic-Jurassic Terrestrial Transition volume (of “Aetogate” fame), and I sent it to a few reviewers and reviewed it myself, too, and sent Rob back at least my own reviews (I’d have to check and see about others). However, I never heard anything back from Rob about a revised version for the final volume — this must have been at the time of Rob’s professed cyber-disconnect, and ultimately I had to leave the paper out of the volume as a result. Now, I have also not yet read the new, published version of the paper and so I could not say whether or not any of my suggested changes were made — not that they necessarily had to be (though I’d like to think they were valuable!), but simply to demonstrate that he received my review comments and took them into consideration in making the published version different from the original manuscript. But I can confirm that this particular manuscript underwent at least one peer review. I don’t know about the Kayentavenator thing — that one was new to me!

    In the end, I’m with Mickey: Kayentavenator is validly published — I make, however, no claims as to its taxonomic validity (not having yet read the paper or seen the specimen!) I agree that it’s not on nearly as solid ground as it could be, but I think it has squeaked by on the edges of many of the rules, both spoken and unspoken.

  9. By the way, Mike, I’ve just noticed that the link to the DML is broken (needs the “http”).

    [Mike: fixed now, thanks for pointing it out.]

  10. qilong Says:

    I am actually concerned over a theme in this blog post, in which Mike argues about “journals,” and their relationship to this discussion. In sum (if you want to skip this tl;dr-style) I write:

    If it is unclear what a “journal” is, or the adequacy of “peer-review,” or what constitutes “legitimate publication,” then how are we to render a verdict on the permissibility or lack thereof of a venue? It looks like some of us are going to make personal judgments on each of these options, and determine for ourselves, and when the majority are in agreement, we will be able to “tell” what is right or not … and that’s how the ICZN arose! This is precisely what leads to resolution on methodology, as distasteful as it may seem at first, and it may mess with all of these publications people currently regard as valid, but which differ in their methods of review, editorialism, regularity, etc.

    In the long, Mike writes:

    “Until recently, the broader community has been able to delegate the process to journals in most cases, because it was easy to see what a “journal” was: it had a publisher, it was printed on glossy paper, and it came out on a regular schedule. It was easy to see whether a given work was in a journal or not.”

    What is interesting is that books are also valid publication criteria. So are a small mess of things. “What’s a journal” isn’t even relevant to this discussion — it’s actually nothing more than a red herring.

    Historically, scientific works, from Linnaeus’ Systema Naturae to Newton’s Principia were published through manuscripts sent to societies, which then used private printing presses to render the pieces into books or “tracts,” and then distributed this as “publications.” In some cases, such as printing of traditional Biblia on various presses, was produced by religious groups, often actual churches shortcutting the traditional hand-transcrtiption method. Both of these methods were used by various authors for numerous works in the 1700-1800s. Late in the 1800’s, the traditional medium of the news-sheet would become its own source of press and reading, and would only become larger and more convoluted from its original single-sheet, to double-sided, to multiple-folded-sheet styles; this process of publication became the traditional magazines, which could be scientific or lay, specialized or vulgar, etc. Private presses were employed for all of these styles of printing, and were either contracted to publish, or would publish for personal profit (as in news-sheets). At the turn of the century, after two centuries of accredited scientific publication, there were no true technical “journals” in existence.

    Most journals that we regard today arose from in-house publication collections of only-members, and were for the most part restricted to access by those members. They were more often than not technical findings of society-funded travel. Some of these, such as American Museum Novitates, were published in large volumes from technical presentations that today would seem much like technical sessions at SVP/SVPCA, and were largely for the members’ own use. Broad distribution of personal research required out-of-pocket costs, and were dependent on the author to distribute his own work. Today, obviously, for the share of having copyright (retained by the author in all early forms) and keeping all purchase costs, these “monographs” could be purchased by anyone, and several “journals” or “monograph series” started out just this way as well.

    Today, the terms “magazine,” “journal,” “tract,” “pamphlet” can all be used to characterize similar, and often blurry types of objects, but all are considered published. The ICZN, on the other hand, places rules on what it regards as “valid publication,” and the only requirements are durability, distribution, and access.The PhyloCode will add peer-review, but only to taxonomic works; the ICZN does not require peer-review.

    “That is changing very fast. By most of the criteria above, PLoS ONE is not a “journal” (no publisher but itself, no printing on paper, and no regular schedule) yet I don’t think anyone is going to claim it’s not a journal.”

    Remember what I said about a red herring? PLOSOne is print on demand, at a cost; and like companies including Simon & Schuster are privately owned; there are plenty of other legitimate publication venues like AMNovitates that also lack “regular” schedule, and despite the definition of “journal” containing a regularity of publication, it is nonetheless included in such lists. It should be noted that, under American printing standards, newspapers like The New York Times are journals in the classic sense, deviating from the sense of “modern” journals in that it’s daily, lacks peer review, and is subject to editorial standards and “impact.”

    “Although I think PLoS ONE is a wonderful thing (I’ll be sending my own work there), one of its deleterious side-effects is that it, along with Palaeontologia Electronica and others, has shifted people’s ideas of what is “published”. One can easily imagine, say, a museum setting up its own PLoS-like journal — maybe a reputable one, maybe a less reputable one. From there it’s a short slide to a department, a small group or even an individual.”

    It’s a pity that most American and many British universities/museums already operate their own “journals,” conventional only in the sense that they are peer-reviewed (by internal rather than external standards), and are often irregularly but consistently produced (bi-, quad-annually to monthly to bi-monthly, etc., but the dates vary, as they do with JVP! — note that though Nature publishes in print every Thursday and Science every Friday, but Oryctos may not publish in a year, or two … this is an exception and not a rule.)

    ” We have to face the facts that (A) it’s going to be hard to say what is and isn’t a “journal” and (B) we have no way of checking, in general, that “peer-review” is meaningful and adequate.”

    And that’s another kettle of fish: As Mike is well aware, the subject of peer-review can be tricky, and include publications whose editorial staff, authors, and reviewers are all the same group of people. A subject of adequate peer-review, as some reading this are aware, requires a diverse enough field of workers that you are likely to recieve at least one objective review, and especially given that anonymous review for most dedicated journals works on the system of lists of specialists in fields. When it comes to things like Triassic chronostratigraphy or sauropodan taxonomy, such a list of specialists is short. As is clear from the chapter authors of the upcoming Phylonyms for sauropodans, the only specialists familiar enough with sauropodan taxonomy NOT included are critics of the PhyloCode: You’re supposed to expect a critical review with expectation that the anonymous reviewers could give a thumbs up to your editor (if that isn’t even yourself?). Despite this, works produced in this manner are legitimate publications, licensed through private publishers with a out-of-pocket cost, and with a limited number of copies made available (some of which are produced at a loss to the publisher), and permissible by the ICZN for the purposes of taxonomy.

  11. Tim Williams Says:

    Nice article, Mike. But I agree with Jerry and Mickey that Kayentavenator has met the criteria of the ICZN Code – only because it’s difficult to prove that it *hasn’t* met the criteria. But the fact that this is being debated at all tells us that something has to change, or else we’ll be right back here some time very soon.

  12. Tim Williams Says:

    “Have you never been contacted by conspiracy-theorist dino-nutter amateurs? I have. I can live without those people publishing names, thanks!”

    Funny you should mention this… I’m being contacted right now by one such nutter – and I’m not even a paleontologist! I also can certainly live without these nutters publishing new names (e.g., “Elaphrosaurus philtippettensis”, which was proposed as a new name – that name is just wrong for so many reasons).

    Thing is, if one nutter self-publishes a new name, and the name gains acceptance, then it sets a bad precedent. Every nutter will start doing it. I’m not calling Rob a nutter – not at all. But if it is seen to be the ‘done thing’ to publish a new name outside scientific journals, then the floodgates will open.

    One strategy is for the ICZN to compile a list of acceptable journals that constitute a valid form of publication. Sure, it would be a long list, and will need to be regularly updated. But it should not be too hard to do. That will help remove some of the ‘gray literature’.

    Books (like the new Ceratopsia volume) would have to be approved before hand; again, not a hard thing to do. But that rubbish “Dinosaur Museum Journal”, a glossy self-published effort masquerading as an inaugural scientific journal, would NOT have made the cut.

  13. Allen Hazen Says:

    Re: “The issue is that print-on-demand does not produce the copies simultaneously.” (Mike, replying to Mickey)
    —>Jerry Harris beat me in noting that in conventional printing copies come of the press one after another rather than simultaneously. But here’s another example: publisher doesn’t know what the eventual deamnd for a work will be, and resetting type if demand grows would be ludicrously expensive. So, binding being expensive, runs off extra “copies” which are kept in a warehous in the form of uncut and unfolded sheets: order comes in and a copy will be produced (by foolding the relevant sheets binding and cutting): publication on demand with pre-electronic technology. Kicker: THIS WAS ACTUALLY DONE, by Oxford University Press.

    Point: On my (layman’s) reading, 8.1.3 rules out Gay’s sort of publication by demant with Lulu press. I think that’s a silly ruling to make (the fact that Gay could have gotten around it if he had just named the five institutions where he deposited copies in his preface, I think, shows how silly it is). But even more: depending on how many other publishers followed O.U.P.’s practice, it could (contrary to intension) rule out come conventional monograph publications.

  14. Allen Hazen Says:

    (Oh. My source for Oxford University Press’s having kept unsewn sheets so they could publish on demand is “pers. com.” from my late father, a descriptive bibliographer at Columbia University, whose area of professional expertise included history of publishing. Not sure when O.U.P. did this, but he told me about it in the ??1960s?? and I had the impression that it was still current practice at the time.)

  15. the electronic publication proposals currently being considered explicitly disqualify “print on demand” publications

    I was wrong about this; disregard that statement.

    I’ve written my own follow-up post from this on some more general points.

  16. Mike Taylor Says:

    Lots of interesting stuff here. Somehow Jaime seems to have got the idea that my intention here was to declare Gay’s book as not validly published, and Bill seems to have got the idea that my intention was to declare that it was validly published! To clarify, neither is the case: if I had an actual point, it was just to show how problematic these issues are becoming, and to point out that it’s not going to get any easier.

    And just to clear up one other point: Jaime complained that “As is clear from the chapter authors of the upcoming Phylonyms for sauropodans, the only specialists familiar enough with sauropodan taxonomy NOT included are critics of the PhyloCode.” In fact, we invited Jeff Wilson to be among the authors, but he declined — because he is a critic of the PhyloCode. No-one was excluded for that reason, except by themselves.

  17. qilong Says:

    I’d like to clarify that my argument has nothing to do with anyone’s intentions. I’m trying to debate here, as the issues raised have a lot to do with other, corollary issues I’m interested in (terminology, taxonomy, etc.). I do not intent, then, for anythign I have written to imply or implicate Mike in arguing Rob’s work isn’t valid or published, etc. Just FYI.

  18. Re: Mr Williams’s comments of 9 June 2010. Rob Gay’s self-published, small monograph is a concisely written, valid publication. The problem is — and Mr Williams is a classic example of a non-scientist, who has never published anything on dinosaurs — that the definition of ‘publication’ is used, when necessary, by elitists. I am sanguine about Mr Williams’s lack of knowledge, and his rather egregious baiting attacks: e.g. George Olshevsky recently announced the names of new ceratopsian taxa with Michael Ryan’s full knowledge and approval, and Mr Williams owes George a thorough, public apology for his immediate non-sense comments at DML about George’s ethics. And he never seems to accept the fact that I am not a ‘conspiracy-theorist dino-nutter amateur’. My late, close colleague and mentor Sam Welles (unlike Mr Williams, a dinosaurologist) and I worked for years on, in the main, UK Jurassic theropods. We established new taxa, self-published several. In 1995, e.g., we self-published the name of a new Ceratosaurus species, with stratigraphy, hypodigm, and diagnosis, in a publication which met ICZN 8.1.1, 8.1.2, and 8.1.3…only to have the taxon ripped off in 2000 by James Madsen, who had a copy of our PUBLISHED description, and chose to ignore it, but used our preliminary analyses. Sam and I — again meeting ICZN 8.1.1, 8.1.2, 8.1.3 — published Walkersaurus hesperis (Waldman), which has priority over Benson. Contra Mickey Mortimer — who has NOT personally examined the specimens nor the evidence (he opts to use the words of others vs examining the fossils personally), but has copies of our publications — Walkersaurus remains valid, as does Ceratosaurus willisobrienorum (Sam and I spent weeks with the Ceratosaurus specimens, and I have a series of photographs of EVERY specimen of the hypodigm). Our 1995 taxon has priority of 5 years over James Madsen’s rushed efforts. Mickey Mortimer prides himself on doing the ‘hard work’ of sorting out nomenclature (his Theropoda blog is an excellent repository of well-conceived intentions) — an integral part of the process is specimen-examination through specimen loans from respective institutions, or obtaining casts., however, rather than spending hours with printed papers which do not always parallel having a specimen in one’s hand.
    As far as I know, Mr Williams has no first-hand knowledge of the specimens Sam and I worked with (I have all of his drawings, photographs, and mss. he and I revised TOGETHER)…and yet, Mr Williams (like ‘Qilong’) continues to distort the scientific record.
    All of my publications meet ICZN:
    8.1.1 — when first published provided public and permanent record of their existence;
    8.1.2 — when first published were free;
    8.1.3 — when first published, were pubished in simultaneously obtainable copies by a method that assured there were numerous, durable copies.
    They were not printed on quantum foam, nor programmed to self-destruct.
    This is the problem Mr Williams has (setting aside the profound and reprehensible ethical problems he has displayed publicly over the years when vociferously using racialist categorizations for Jews raised by Shoah survivors): Rob Gay chose — which I have been, recently exploring, as well, as the likely avenue for publication of my MUTANDA DINOSAUROLOGICA (which Sam Welles carefully examined, page-by-page…this constitutes ‘peer-review’)…
    Thus, Mr Williams (who, again I stress, is like the cacophonous ‘Qilong’ in not being a published dinosaurologist) is clinging to false paradigms. He haughtily dismisses Sylvia Czerkas’s fine first effort, DINOSAUR MUSEUM JOURNAL, as well as Rob Gay’s new monograph, for reasons which are illogical., however, charges an author fees for using their service, explaining why the author has to charge a small fee for readers to have access to their PDFs. In the end, Mr Williams owe apologies to many: George, Sylvia, myself, and published dinosaurologist Tracy Ford (who has been subjected to Mr Williams’s ‘weasel’-ness, as George Olshevsky elegantly puts it).
    Mike Taylor raises some very cogent observations about the inadequacies of language: ‘journal’ and ‘peer-review’ (like ‘consciousness’ and ‘awareness’) are non-definable, and given to torturous escapades (one cannot, e.g., see a breeze, and how does one explain to another what a ‘breeze’ is?). Rob Gay has published.
    Tzeth’a Leshalom VeShuvh’a Leshalom…go in peace, return in peace.
    STEPHAN PICKERING / Chofetz Chayim ben-Avraham
    The Dinosaur Fractals Project

  19. Dan Chure Says:

    The Coelophysis cannabilism part of the paper failed to cite Nesbitt et al 2006 which clearly showed that the specimen inside the rib cage was a crocodyliform and so cannabilsm was not supported. This should have been caught by the author and would have been caught by a more current “peer review.”

    The peer review cited was for a journal which the paper was not published in. Peer review is only real peer review when the reviewers have the ability to prevent publication. The Kayentaventaor paper was not peer reviewed in any sense that term is used in scientific discussion.

    Even if the publication met the code requirements (which I don’t think it does), it certainly doesn’t meat the spirit of the code. If the code finds this an acceptable taxonomic action then there is really little reason have the code at all.

    If Phylocode requires peer review for the creation of new taxa, then that (for me) overrules any other objections or reservations I might have about the system. Continued self publication (electronic or otherwise)will really lead to chaos.

  20. Mike Taylor Says:


    I allowed your comment to go through verbatim this time, but I must ask that if you comment on this forum again you refrain from this kind of sideswipe:

    Thus, Mr Williams (who, again I stress, is like the cacophonous ‘Qilong’ in not being a published dinosaurologist) …

    It doesn’t advance the discussion and can only incubate bad feeling. Thanks for understanding.

  21. Nathan Myers Says:

    There seems to be confusion about what “publish” means. It doesn’t have anything to do with printing. Legally, a work has been published when copies have been distributed.

  22. Shalom & erev tov, Mike:
    Ma shalom-cha/how are you?
    Thank you for allowing me the opportunity to refute what I consider to be the untrue, outrageous comments here, and at the DML, comments which George Olshevsky, Tracy Ford, and myself (among others) are cognizant of. Being a scientific henotheist, so to speak (I was raised, in part, by 29 April 1945 Dachau survivor KZ 246744, zikhronah livrakhah), I understand your criteria (like Mr Williams et al., I, too, have a degree). As Reb Elie Wiesel once said: ‘Some things are true, even if they never transpired; some things are false, even if they are witnessed’. Keeping the level of discussion civil, and fact-based, is the fulcrum of dialogic thinking.
    Laila tov, good night.
    Stephan Pickering / Chofetz Chayim ben-Avraham
    The Dinosaur Fractals Project

  23. Mike Taylor Says:

    Nathan Myers wrote:

    There seems to be confusion about what “publish” means. It doesn’t have anything to do with printing. Legally, a work has been published when copies have been distributed.

    Not according to the ICZN, which is what we’re concerned with here. See Article 8.1.3 (quoted in the article).

  24. Tim Williams Says:

    I didn’t read Pickering’s spray in full, but I think I can capture the gist of it.

    Anyhow… Stephan, just name ONE paleontologist that regards any of your genera or species as valid. Just ONE. I’ll even let you include George Olshevsky and Tracy Ford in the list (even though that is stretching the definition of ‘paleontologist’ beyond breaking point). I note that Olshevsky’s ‘Dinosaur Genera List’ actually lists all your genera as nomina nuda… so I don’t know why you don’t direct some of your venom in his direction.

    Oh, as for you naming ONE paleontologist who regards your genera or species as valid, there’s only one condition… they have to be ALIVE. Sorry, Sam Welles doesn’t count. He can’t speak for himself, so anything you claim he has said or done is meaningless.

    P.S. If you’re going to address me formally, then it’s “Dr Williams”. I just know the “Mr Williams” thing is an unintentional oversight on your part. Keeping the level of discussion civil and fact-based is the fulcrum of dialogic thinking, after all.

  25. Rob Gay Says:

    If nothing else comes out of this whole situation (that, honestly, I had no idea would spring up in this fashion) I hope it does push ICZN/PhyloCode/etc. to look at this issue.
    Lulu doesn’t charge me a fee. In fact, with the pricing on both the print and download versions, I don’t think I make any money either – I’d have to double-check that since the page count changed from my first layout I had been considering.
    As for free PDFs – I will be posting at least the Kayentavenator paper on my website for free download for whomever wants it – hopefully tonight or tomorrow.

  26. Shalom & erev tov, Mr Williams:
    Please send your apologies to George Olshevsky,
    Tracy Ford, Sylvia Czerkas (I do not need, nor solicit one), with copies to me. You are not a dinosaur scientist, or a scientist on any level. We are. I anticipated your refusal to confront the ontological dilemma you are in, but, out of courtesy to Mike Taylor and this excellent site’s depth, I don’t expect you to be honest in this forum. It’s Rav ben-Avraham to you, Mr Williams.
    STEPHAN PICKERING / Chofetz Chayim ben-Avraham
    The Dinosaur Fractals Project

  27. Tony Says:

    Does any one take this wackjob (S. Pickering) seriously?

  28. Dan Chure Says:

    Mr. Pickering’s comments about Jim Madsen ripping off his and Sam Welles work on Ceratosaurus does not stand up to critical review. The Ceratosaurus monograph Pickering refers to was coauthored by both Jim Madsen AND SAM WELLES! I doubt Sam would rip off his own work and clearly didn’t consider any previous naming of the material to be valid, otherwise he would not have coauthored the monograph naming it.

  29. Tim Says:

    Stephan – you’re just too funny. I call your dinosaur names nomina nuda, and you accuse me of everything under the sun (including, bewilderingly, anti-Semitism.)

    George Olshevsky calls your dinosaur names nomina nuda, and you provide him with a sycophantic eulogy.

  30. JackX Says:

    Hi I’m new… I have an inquiry for Stephan. If you worked so closely with Samuel Welles then why are you not mentioned in any of his many scientific publications?

    I’m not saying that you did not work with him. But where is the evidence.

  31. Mike Taylor Says:


    All right folks, this is getting increasingly abusive. I’ve not removed or redacted any comments yet, and I don’t want to have to, but we’re not going to tolerate any more name-calling. You know who you are. Keep it civil and on-topic, please.

  32. Charles Epting Says:

    I just clicked on the link to the paper and was able to download the entire thing for free, so it seems that Mr. Gay changed the pricing

  33. Tracy Ford Says:

    Tim Williams Says:

    June 11, 2010 at 1:45 am
    I didn’t read Pickering’s spray in full, but I think I can capture the gist of it.

    Anyhow… Stephan, just name ONE paleontologist that regards any of your genera or species as valid. Just ONE. I’ll even let you include George Olshevsky and Tracy Ford in the list (even though that is stretching the definition of ‘paleontologist’ beyond breaking point).<<

    Hey, I resemble that remark! And here I've done my best to have my articles published in 'valid' journals…

    I happen to think that Rob Gay may be onto something. I've thought about doing the same thing from time to time. Though I would have the articles peer reviewed in some way. I also think there should be some overall 'code' that self published and 'real' journals need to follow. With new day and age with electronic media this may be something that'll need to be discussed.

  34. Bill Parker Says:

    With all due respect. Dr. Samuel Welles passed away in 1997. Thus the review mentioned by Mr. Pickering is at least 13 years old and thus severely out of date given recent work in vertebrate paleontology. I would hope that he would consider having at least two more reviews done by prominent, current theropod workers before publishing his manuscript. Surely if it is a piece with scientific worth it will pass this test.

    A manuscript published in 2010 should contain references up to and including that year. Manuscripts should be re-reviewed after a certain period of inactivity to reflect new data and ideas, especially if the period of inactivity represents 6 or more years.

  35. Shalom & erev tov, Bill Parker:

    Kol tuv uv’racha.

    Sam passed on 6 August 1997, 10 days before he and I were going to get together with my wife and I for my 50th birthday. JackX above is in need of a colonic shower; this is not show’n’tell; my private life is none of his business. I have here all of the original typed mss. pages, photographs, and negatives given to me by Sam Welles on my wedding day, Monday, 30 January 1984. Did they just materialize out of nowhere? Sam was a loving, generous mentor to me, and uncommonly kind to my late wife (zikhronah livrakhah).

    Rest assured, that, when published (and, no, it won’t be in 2010), MUTANDA DINOSAUROLOGICA will have what is sitting here in my office: taxonomy, nomenclature, names, stratigraphy, hypodigms, and a massive bibliography. And, to be sure, it will be up-to-date. I have not done serious work on the mss. since 2005, but, my files are kept current on publications re: Theropoda etc. We’re speaking of ca. 3 years from now. When ready, the entire project will be sent to Tracy Ford, George Olshevsky, and Mickey Mortimer for reviews.

    As QiLeong & Tim Williams are NOT free-lance dinosaur scientists, and have NEVER published any dinosaur papers, and as my publications thus far meet ICZN 8.1.1, 8.1.2, and 8.1.3 — well,I think you understand that I am not going to respond to their vituperative phantasies. Moreover, Ceratosaurus willisobrienorum is valid under ICZN rules, and still has 5 years priority over James Madsen’s hurried 2000 efforts.

    And, to keep it on topic: when will anyone discuss whether or not Rob Gay’s taxon is justifiable based on the specimen? I think it is, and the objections raised against him, and his methodologies, are without merit.

    L’Shanah Tovah, Stephan
    STEPHAN PICKERING / Chofetz Chayim ben-Avraham
    The Dinosaur Fractals Project

  36. Mike Taylor Says:

    Stephan Pickering/Chofetz Chayim ben-Avraham wrote:

    JackX above is in need of a colonic shower.

    Last chance, Stephan. One more personal insult of this kind — especially one so unmerited as this, in response to a polite and reasonable inquiry — and I’ll ban you from commenting. Keep it civil, or go elsewhere.

  37. Bill Parker Says:

    IMHO because of the state of the description and figures it is not possible to verify through the publication itself whether or not Kayentavenator is diagnosable. Some of the features mentioned in the text as diagnostic either have a wider distribution (e.g., groove on top of femoral head) or are highly unlikely and probably due to damage and/or misidentification (e.g., lack of crista tibiofibularis). Only detailed examination of the actual specimen will verify whether the taxon is justifiable. (Note: I believe the paper meets ICZN requirements so the taxonomic name is valid under that authority).

    No offense to Messrs. Ford, Olshevsky, and Mortimer, but I think that I had other reviewers in mind, particularly people who have published extensively on theropods in the last 5 years or so.

  38. Tracy Ford Says:

    No offense to Messrs. Ford, Olshevsky, and Mortimer, but I think that I had other reviewers in mind, particularly people who have published extensively on theropods in the last 5 years or so.<<

    None taken :) At least on my part.

  39. Charles Epting Says:

    I know there’s a debate about whether Mr. Pickering’s and Mr. Gay’s taxa are valid under ICZN rules, but would they be accepted under PhyloCode?

    “4.2. …To qualify as published, works must be peer-reviewed, consist of numerous (at least 50 copies), simultaneously obtainable, identical, durable, and unalterable copies, some of which are distributed to major institutional libraries (in at least five countries on three continents) so that the work is generally accessible as a permanent public record to the scientific community”

    Based on that I’d say “no”, since there’s only a few copies of Mr. Pickering’s paper in circulation, but I’m still learning the finer points of taxonomy-can anyone else help me with this? Thanks a lot.

  40. Shalom & boker tov:

    In response to Mr Epting’s comments, ALL of my publications, with their VALID taxa, meet ICZN 8.1.1, 8.1.2, 8.1.3 when they were first released, contra public announcements by Mr Williams, QiLeong, et al. All of them, indeed, are in the process of being thoroughly revised for MUTANDA DINOSAUROLOGICA, and, as I’ve mentioned, will be shared with Tracy Ford, George Olshevsky, Mickey Mortimer — three dinosaurology peers. Mickey Mortimer has been in the process of converting the material I sent to him into PDFs, with my approval, thus ensuring, years later, another open access avenue. MUTANDA DINOSAUROLOGICA will, need I add?, be distributed to 5 libraries on 3 continents (my choice of locations), and, like the original publications, in obtainable, identical, durable, unalterable form.

    In another context, Ceratosaurus willisobrienorum is valid, and pre-dates James Madsen’s rushed 2000 monograph by 4 years. Contra to what has been asserted within the last few days at DML by QiLeong (who was not, at any time, privy to the mentoring relationship between Sam and myself), I received ALL of the material in MUTANDA DINOSAUROLOGICA (the original unedited mss., proof sheets, photographs) from Sam Welles PERSONALLY, NOR did I add ‘flare’ to it, nor were the 1996 taxa erected as an ‘afterthought’. Ceratosaurus willisobrienorum was erected with Sam’s delighted approval, and he did NOT, at any time prior to 6 August 1997, give me ANY indication he believed the hypodigm consisted of more than 2 species.

    Sam went over the proof pages of the 1995 publication carefully, approving (in order of appearance) Tyrannosaurus stanwinstonorum, Allosaurus whitei, and Ceratosaurus willisobrienorum (originally nomina nuda from 1995). This constitutes ‘peer review’. Each of these has a name, stratigraphy, hypodigm, and diagnosis. When printed on 4 April 1996, a copy was sent immediately to James Madsen. Since QiLeong has NEVER seen the complete, fully developed pages for Ceratosaurus willisobrienorum in MUTANDA DINOSAUROLOGICA, his speculations, I’m afraid, are incorrect. Mr Madsen indeed also received copies of mss. pages from Sam Welles (which I have), AND the 1996 publication containing Ceratosaurus willisobrienorum. (MUTANDA DINOSAUROLOGICA, of course, will have descriptions and extensive photographs of the hypodigm.) In fact, contra QiLeong’s DML comments, the 1995 taxa are available (in photocopy form, as the original, glossy, saddle-stitched 1995 publication exists now in one copy in my archive) at any time (all of my publications have been freely available). HOWEVER: Due to ‘tight’ finances (since my beloved wife Faline passed on 24 August 2008 from small-cell carcinoma), I have not had the opportunity to photocopy the original publications…AND, at the moment, I cannot. Although not expecting one, in the light of distortions of the evidence deriving from UPG (unverified personal gnosis), I believe QiLeong owes me (and by extension Sam Welles) a public apology. I grow weary of individuals who did NOT know Sam, were NOT with us (my wife, except on 1 or 2 occasions due to work schedules, was there also, as she paid for most of the printing!), and keep on insinuating the most outlandish scenarios.

    As a postscript, I should add, also, that contra QiLeong et al., the publications were (outside of being peer-reviewed by Sam Welles) MY work: I revised and expanded myself all of the pages Sam gave to me. He then sat down, in the presence of my wife, for a period of several days at UCMP (and once here in Santa Cruz), and looked over each page, giving me full credit for my work, and approval for self-publishing. This consitutes ‘peer review’.

    As a footnote, Sam was especially pleased with the result of my working 2 years on what came to become Dilophosaurus breedorum (which Mickey Mortimer has a copy of, among others), a taxon NOT synonymous with Dilophosaurus wetherilli, and Walkersaurus hesperis (Waldman 1974) (which predates Benson) — both VALID under ICZN rules.

    Mr Epting, taxonomy is a labyrinth, without concise definitions of what is ‘valid’. For example, I believe that dissertations MUST be accepted as valid nomenclatural events. At the moment, for every snowflake, there is an ‘authority’. I have been, since 1954, involved with these ‘beautiful beasts’ (as Willis O’Brien described them to my father decades ago); I do not let the spitballs of perfunctory rhetoric stop me from trying to understand their relationships. Mickey Mortimer has a marvellous Theropod Data Base I URGE you to consult; there is nothing like it in Cyberia. AND this website (and Darren Naish’s) are further avenues of illumination (and lively debates).

    Kol tuv uv’racha…may you blessed with all that is good.
    STEPHAN PICKERING / Chofetz Chayim ben-Avraham
    The Dinosaur Fractals Project

  41. Mike Taylor Says:

    Stephan Pickering/Chofetz Chayim ben-Avraham wrote:

    [Sam Welles] then sat down, in the presence of my wife, for a period of several days at UCMP (and once here in Santa Cruz), and looked over each page, giving me full credit for my work, and approval for self-publishing. This consitutes ‘peer review’.

    I have to agree with Stephan here … this constitutes ‘peer review’; but it does not constitute peer-review. In other words, the scare-quotes are fully merited. What Welles did for Stephan’s manuscript would undoubtedly have improved it — it was a process well worth going through — but it’s not what we generally mean by the term peer-review.

    As an analogous example, I have had Matt Wedel do pre-submission reviews on several of my own papers (and I’ve done the same favour for him); but neither of us has ever considered that to be peer-review in the sense that this phrase is generally used — instead, it’s a process that’s useful for bashing manuscripts into shape so that they’re better equipped to pass through the actual peer-review that follows.

    As I’ve noted recently on the DML, the problem with talking about peer-review as a condition of quality — e.g. in the PhyloCode’s provisions for what constitutes valid publication — is that people can interpret the term very loosely (as we see in Stephan’s comment). So let’s take a stab at a proper definition: in calling a work peer-reviewed, we mean that a disinterested editor (not the author) has chosen reviewers, solicited reviews from them, and imposed requirements on the author as a result — to amend the manuscript in some cases, or explain why the review is mistaken in others. The key point here seems not to be that a review has happened, but that it’s been done objectively by someone with no personal stake in the outcome, and that a third party (the editor) has some authority over the outcome.

    So if we want to improve the quality of publications considered valid for nomenclatural purposes, we don’t need to consider self-publication invalid, but but self-editing.

    (This, by the way, would mean some chapters in some edited volumes would not be considered validly published — because the editor was the author. Food for thought here. It would also have interesting implications for dissertations that were examined and which had to have changes made as a result, so long as the result of the process was made widely available.)

  42. A CORRECTION. ‘Ceratosaurus willisobrienorum was erected with Sam’s delighted approval, and he did NOT, at any time prior to 6 August 1997, give me ANY indication he believed the hypodigm consisted of more than 2 species’.

    In my rapid typing, this should have read: ‘…give me ANY indication he believed the hypodigm consisted of 2 species; he like, like me, believed there were 2 contemporaneous species of Ceratosaurus’.

  43. Ceratosaurus willisobrienorum. A CORRECTION TO QiLEONG.

    This is what ‘QiLeong’ has written within the past 2 days at DML:

    ‘The paper was in limbo for a while, that I know. I understand that for the most part, Madsen left the secondary works of the paper, the systematic sections, as they were before Welles’s death; much of the anatomical [sic; the hypodigm has no preserved soft tissue impressions] work, which was the primary portion of the paper, was derived well in advanced [sic] of this [?from what] and may be considered Madsen’s primary contribution. Much of my information also derives from a brief conversation with Jim Madsen and at least two other workers, although I lack this data at current [sic] (one was in person). Simple reading of some of what Pickering cut into his work [?meaning] and what the CLDQ Ceratosaur paper [? words missing in transit] does derive a sense [sic] that Madsen not only worked on this [?meaning — James Madsen never worked on, nor contributed to, the Welles/Pickering collaborative effort on Ceratosaurus willisobrienorum], but it reveals original text [? meaning]. And without trying to make a personal claim here, but I am more willing [a personal claim] to trust Madsen on the subject (as I’d never talked to Welles), as well as word of mouth of his peers, than I will Pickering, based simply on the number of people who will back up the one, but not the other (even if Pickering is right)’.

    This convoluted creative paragraph by QiLeong collapses when the scientific evidence is clearly considered: Sam and I worked on this taxon for several weeks, and mss. pages were created by Sam, with other comparative osteological pages created by me with Sam’s observational participation. It was a high honour for me, to say the least. Sam gave me his pages, ALL of the negatives and photographs of the hypodigm (which I have a few feet from me here in my office) — knowing I was expanding ALL of it as part of MUTANDA DINOSAUROLOGICA. In late 1995, as I’ve mentioned above, Sam then went over the diagnoses of three nomina nuda taxa I had erected earlier in the year (the nomina nuda published 27 January 1995 in my 478 page compendium JURASSIC PARK: UNAUTHORIZED JEWISH FRACTALS IN PHILOPATRY).

    As QiLeong was not present during this work, nor did he participate in this scientific endeavour, I fail to see the relevance of his unfactual deductions. Ceratosaurus willisobrienorum is a valid taxon, its 1996 peer-reviewed (by Sam Welles) publication meeting all ICZN 8.1.1, 8.1.2, 8.1.3 criteria…a publication James Madsen received in April 1996 from me by USPS (Sam received 5 copies from my wife and I personally, and for all I know, he may have sent one to James Madsen). What transpired in Utah is irrelevant to me. In 2000, when I received a copy of the Madsen monograph (which, of course, does not have the photographs of the hypdogim I possess), I promptly sent Madsen a note reminding him of my publishing Ceratosaurus willisobrienorum in 1996…my wife and I never received a reply. I still consider my work to have been ripped off, contra Dan Chure.

    I apologize for this digression from our discussions of Rob Gay’s interesting monograph, but, for the sake of accuracy, and to correct QiLeong’s ostensible inability (or unwillingness) to keep his interpolations accurate, I offer this observation based on my VPG (verified personal gnosis!).

    Laila tov/good night.

    STEPHAN PICKERING / Chofetz Chayim ben-Avraham
    The Dinosaur Fractals Project

  44. Bill Parker Says:

    I’m very confused. The following statements snipped from Mr. Pickering’s last message would imply that Dr. Welles was a co-author, or at least should be considered one as much of the work seems to be his.

    “Sam and I worked on this taxon for several weeks, and mss. pages were created by Sam, with other comparative osteological pages created by me with Sam’s observational participation. It was a high honour for me, to say the least. Sam gave me his pages,”

    If Dr. Welles is a co-author then he could not have been a reviewer as well.

    I highly recommend sending any revised (to include up-to-date information) pre-published manuscript to at least two independent researchers who have actively published on theropod dinosaurs within the last five years, and then make the required revisions. This is what will constitute true peer review.

  45. qilong Says:

    Bill, aside from this, the previous work Pickering has produced has been done with the seeming use of data rather than just verbiage from Welles’ manuscript. I am thus willing to accept that Pickering can put a technical sentence together.

  46. Tracy Ford Says:

    Qilong have you actually seen his publications? I don’t mean the King Kong but the actuall description of say, Dilophosaurus? Or any of his other writings? And didn’t Mike ask to play nicely?

  47. qilong Says:

    Tracy, while I understand Pickering cannot use my real name even when it is the only label in front of him to use, as most of my time on the DML showed, you should at least afford me the courtesy of my name, as I do yours and everyone else’s, including Pickering.

    And no, I’ve not read that particular portion of his writing. I have read other portions of his writing. And he liberally wrote to Mickey’s blog in the technical, so I can make a guess as to the quality of his particular writing (which I’ve not actually dismissed). But let us be frank, Tracy: The King King and Jurassic Park arguments ARE part of his writing, and unlike the use of Welles’ manuscript, which I’ve also not seen, they are not of any sort of technical quality that makes me think his other work is any different, and I should state that I have seen some of his Ceratosaurus text, it was a few years back as a scan from the PT mailing.

  48. Tracy Ford Says:

    If you haven’t read his writings, then how can you honestly make an opionion? Its like what happened at an early morining radio station I use to listen to. They had a segment called ‘lash wednesday’ and they would get calls from catholics saying how bad it was, but they never listened to it, just repeted what they heard from the pulpit. Until you actually READ what he’s written I wouldn’t say his stuff is bad.

    And as far as using qilong Says: THATS WHAT it says in your headers when you write things! If you want people to use your ‘real’ name, then use it. I do, Bill Does, Mike Does, etc.

  49. qilong Says:

    Tracy, after censuring me for playing nicely, I must ask yo to do the same: You know my name.

    I told you that I have read what he’s written. Not that specific document, but that’s irrelevant in two ways: The quality of his writing has NOTHING to do with the publication value that’s being argued, and the issue was brought up in contention with the claim that Pickering’s blog-comment writing is seriously out of tune with technical writing, and that this would be symptomatic of any technical work. I argued before that the latter aspect seems to separate Welles work (published under his own name), that of Madsen and Welles, and Pickering’s work (including the excerpts he claims are validly published). My argument was based solely on the claim that Pickering accused Jim Madsen of somehow stealing work from Welles that Pickering claimed was his right to have, while at the same time accusing Roger Benson, Paul Barrett, and Julia Day of the same.

    It should be noted here that there are TWO different groups of work Pickering argues are validly published:

    1. Pieces of work that Pickering claims are excerpts from his unpublished “Mutanda Dinosaurologica,” which were sent out to various people. These works Pickering claims that he sent out copies to various people, and has done so throughout the last few decades. The issue at hand, where it violates the claim of the ICZN, is whether those pieces were individually printed across those intervening years or whether all copies were printed at one time. The close temporal window of printing, like off an assembly line, is to my understanding the closest meaning to the ambiguity in the “simultaneous” clause of the article. Despite this, the accessibility of the work not being in a public facility of any sort as put there by the author or a separate publisher prohibits the work from being published via the ICZN standards.

    2. An insert describing some taxa was included in a mailing of Prehistoric Times, which based on conversation with the editor of said magazine, qualifies for deposition in public facilities, availability, durability, making it valid (but only it) for publication through the ICZN. This includes the names Allosaurus whitei, Ceratosaurus willisobrienorum and Tyrannosaurus stanwinstonorum. Of these, the first is based on a specimen which Dan Chure has indicated was a new species of allosauroid, which we all know of, and which has issues if this work is honestly regarded as valid, or whether the ICZN can actually act on it (as a disclaimer, I am not advocating anything here). If there is validity to any of these works, it is this:

    Pickering, S. 1996. King Kong: Unauthorized Jewish Fractals in Philopatry. A Fractal Scaling in Dinosaurology Project. 13pp.

    The first set of documents Pickering has argued are pieces of his MS, and I have read pieces of them. If they are the exception, not the rule, then I am willing to allow Pickering to email me a digital copy from his computer files (some versions of Microsoft Word and some Mac apps can make pdfs on the fly) — he certainly knows my email. I swear I wont destroy his email unopened this time.

  50. Tracy Ford Says:

    I am using what the header says is your name. I’ve done a search on this page for your real name and now where is it used on any post. If I used your real name for a post you’ve written not everyone reading this will know who I’m talking about. Its that simple. I’ll use your real name when you use your real name.

    >>contention with the claim that Pickering’s blog-comment writing is seriously out of tune with technical writing, and that this would be symptomatic of any technical work. <<

    If you havn't read his technical work, or anyone else, then how can you state it isn't up to par? Simple quesiton. If you read it and still believe it isn't up to par, fine. I can live with that.

    If everyone has such questions about his works about not being ICZN correct then petition the ICZN about it. That'd solve a lot of the problem wouldn't it?

  51. qilong Says:

    I use a wordpress account for logging in, which since SVPOW
    ! is a wordpress site, is kinda automatic if I’m logged in to my blog (reached by clicking the link). This may explain why my name is not automatic, although that could also be my fault.

    As I said, thrice now, I have read his work. I need not read all of it, or just the An Extract from Archosauromorpha: Cladistics and Osteologies portion of it that you seem to want me to, but I have read some of his work. And please, let me ask you: Can you separate what work was Welles’ and what was Pickering’s? I refer to Pickering’s highly-personalized style used on this blog, Mickey’s, and the DML versus the more technical form present in papers, versus the nonpaleontological work in King Kong.

  52. Tracy Ford Says:

    Ok, you’ve read (SOME) of his work, not all of his work. I have no idea what you’ve read, or IF you’ve read the more technical work. If you have then ok, I’ll live with what you said, but if you haven’t then I suggest you do. I couldn’t seperate Welles from Pickering any more than I can from Madsen and Welles, or any other work that has more than one author. Apparently you can. Until you actually read his more technical work, or anyone else, then anything they write about it is moot. Apparently Mickey M has…

  53. I think I have stated clearly what I have read, which was an excerpt on Ceratosaurus willisobrienorum from the King Kong piece. On top of this, I’ve read snippets of other sections of that work, including non-taxonomic. And, as stated, his “work” on blogs and message boards. The writing is dissimilar.

    Once again, the quality of the writing is irrelevant, save in an issue relating to the inconsistency of the work (as it relates to distinguishing relative authorship). Sure, I’ve not read all of it, but neither has Mickey (or you, that I know of), but this will be true until Pickering publishes the entirety of his MS. How much of this is enough to judge his writing? Are we going to get into an inverse Sorites paradox to say that only knowing ALL of his writing can we judge its quality, or can a single sentence (as an extreme) of technical work qualify?

    I would like to say though that it is my impression, from some of the authorship labels present in these works (Dilophosaurus breedorum Welles, according to Welles and Pickering), indicate that Pickering is NOT the author of some of the taxonomy (i.e., they are not HIS names), or that they indicate Welles was part of the authorship, and not simply a reviewer (as noted by others above and elsewhere, one cannot be both reviewer and author). If this is the case, and Pickering is adapting a manuscript — much as Marsh did for Hatcher, followed by Lull, where the MS was completely reworked at least once — then there would be distinct styles of writing amongst the work. If it was consistent throughout, then we should expect one writer. So what do we see?

    I would like to note that, were the PhyloCode enacted and followed, Pickering would have to show his work was correctly reviewed to be valid, and he would have to register the nomenclature; if it were not, none of it would be valid under the PC, and this is true of Gay as well. This should be done for King Kong, but he’s going to have to go further to support valid publication for everything else (at the least).

  54. Tracy Ford Says:

    The King Kong is NOT his technical work. I don’t know how many more times I can say this (or is it the first time?), anyway, they are not the same, pure and simple. I do have the King Kong, I do have the Dilophosaurus section, I do have the Megalosaurus section and a few others. And until you actually read the Dilophosaurus section you are making an incorrect assumption about his writing, and you know what happens when you make an assumption…:) I haven’t read all of it, but I have more than you have and so has Mickey. Read it and get back to us…

  55. Mike Taylor Says:

    Charles Epting asked:

    I know there’s a debate about whether Mr. Pickering’s and Mr. Gay’s taxa are valid under ICZN rules, but would they be accepted under PhyloCode? […] Based on [Article 4.2] I’d say “no”.

    And you’re right — at least, the PhyloCode is no less strict on this that the ICZN. But reading the relevant article made me aware, belatedly, of a much more important issue … which I will blog separately.

  56. Mike Taylor Says:

    Tracy, I wonder whether people get confused between Stephan’s works by the very similar titles of Jurassic Park: Unauthorized Jewish Fractals In Philopatry and King Kong: Unauthorized Jewish Fractals in Philopatry. I admit that this sometimes catches me out, and that I can’t help focussing more on the shared “unauthorised Jewish fractals” part than the specific monster-movie names that distinguish them.

    (I still don’t understand how a fractal can be Jewish, nor what distinguishes an authorised from an unauthorised one, nor what they have to do with philopatry, i.e. the tendency of individuals to return to their birthplace, e.g. in order to breed). As before, Stephan, I’d welcome your clarification of this title.

  57. Tracy, I provided a citation:

    Pickering, S. 1996. King Kong: Unauthorized Jewish Fractals in Philopatry. A Fractal Scaling in Dinosaurology Project. 13pp.

    Now, this work names a species of Ceratosaurus, Allosaurus, and Tyrannosaurus. It has multiple sections. The cover of the piece sent with issues of Prehistoric Times has THAT title. Now, I am ambivalent here. First, the whole thing may be a title, but the section at the bottom of the page labeled A Fractal Scaling in Dinosaurology Project may be the name of a series, although there are no numbers or issues indicated; I am given to treating it like a subtitle — a second one. But nonetheless, it appears to be the title of the FULL work, regardless of the presence of non paleontological material in it. Thus, when I wrote “King Kong,” it is a shortening of the title “King Kong: Unauthorized Jewish Fractals in Philopatry. A Fractal Scaling in Dinosaurology Project.

    The alternate citation:
    Pickering, S. 1996. King Kong: Unauthorized Jewish Fractals in Philopatry. A Fractal Scaling in Dinosaurology Project. 13pp.

  58. Charles Epting Says:

    Tracy Ford Says:

    Read it and get back to us…

    Tracy–as far as I know, there’s not a way for most people to get ahold of Mr. Pickering’s papers, is there? I thought he only distributed them to a few individuals. Sorry if I’m mistaken, thanks

  59. Mike Taylor Says:

    Charles, I think the idea is that Mickey Mortimer is converting his hardcopies of Pickering’s papers into PDFs which he will then make freely available. I’m not sure of that, though (nor of the utility of doing so).

  60. […] 14, 2010 A comment by Charles Epting on the recent article about self-publication led me to check the relevant section of the draft […]

  61. Tracy Ford Says:

    Hey’s its Jamie!

    And I offer these references, notice they aren’t the ones you talk about.

    Welles, S. P., and Pickering, P., 1999, Dilophosaurus breedorum: Private publication of Stephen Pickering, An extract from Archosauromorpha: Cladistics & Osteologies. A Fractal Scaling in Dinosaurology Project, p. 1-70.

    Welles, S. P., and Pickering, S., 1999, Megalosaurus bucklandii: Private publication of Stephen Pickering, An extract from Archosauromorpha: Cladistics & Osteologies. A Fractal Scaling in Dinosaurology Project, p. 1-119.

    These are different from the King Kong ones. They are the Technical ones.

  62. Tracy, while I haven’t seen the latter (nor has Mickey), the former name appears to occur in a document that bears a different name, according to its cover. You will immediately notice something: There are two sets of copyright notices: Unpublished work is credited to Welles, and on a separate line to Stephan and his wife; below, the published material presented is copyrighted by Welles, then by the two Pickerings. Both have a large series of dates after them.

    What happens if one person receives a bound version of multiple papers, while others recieve separate portions of each, and they all have their own title? I haven’t read these, and I’m not going to worry about them. Their quality is irrelevant.

    When date and authorship appear to differ, I fear we are dealing with a large discrepancy on dates and authorships, as well as that when you received the material was later than he claims the material is published. This is a matter of inconsistency Pickering himself claims he will not change (unless he actually publishes through and makes well known this availability as per the ICZN, Art.8, Rec.8A). This, on top of the fact that some of these have been sent out in waves (and may have been printed at different times because of those dates) suggest that they do not satisfy the “simultaneity” clause of Art. 8.

    Correct me if this data is incorrect.

  63. Shalom & boker tov:

    QiLeong’s semantic pirouettes are a graphic effectuation of not wanting to be concise (I am referring to his evasions of Tracy Ford above dated 14 June), and his almost frantic effort of, somehow, ‘distinguishing relative authorship’.

    I’m afraid QiLeong is, again, on non-factual foundations. When one is formulating a scientific document, the writing style often differs from that of another context. On this, QiLeong is correct in stating the writing is ‘dissimilar’…because this is what I meant to do. I am quite conscious of venues, and, for this reason, an osteological description of a specimen is going to be different when one is, e.g., considering the question of whether or not a CGI dinosaur can be considered ‘aesthetically real’ (using the philosophical template of ‘possible worlds’). As QiLeong has never published a dinosaur project, his objections to either my choice of stylism, or my choice of printing avenue, are irrelevant. My work on the 4th century CE Merkavah/Hekhalot corpus, e.g., requires my careful analysis of Hebrew mss. (some of them, frankly, incoherent gibberish). The style of writing for this book (pulling together proto-kabbalistic templates with the quantum holographic concepts of ‘consciousness’ developed by Stuart Hameroff & Roger Penrose) is decidedly different from my dinosaurology work. In fact, they read differently? Why? QiLeong, the reason is due to subject matter, how one formulates replicatable hypotheses. Because I am using both English and Hebrew, one will be hard-pressed to say which is the ‘real’ Pickering style.

    Thus, contra QiLeong, I am capable to using my analytical skills to change content/direction of what I decide to write. His repeated insinuations, thus far, are sheer speculation on his part, not predicated on the reality of Sam Welles and I being in a collaborative situation several years ago. I resent his often outrageous insinuations, but, then (as a rabbi colleague is fond of saying): how you treat my be-ing is your karma; how I react to it is mine. In looking at some of the publications with Sam, e.g., even I can’t remember who wrote what sentence as compared to another. We were both familiar with the material, and our effort was to present concise, thorough descriptions and comparative osteological analyses. What you, QiLeong, think about the success of our endeavour is, frankly, no concern of mine. You are salaciously presuming you are in a position to ascertain the authorship of our collaborative work, sentence-by-sentence. You have my profound, quite sincere commiseration, QiLeong. You are not a dinosaurologist, have not published, were not with Sam and I — well, I think an outside observor will agree with me that your objections to me, personally, have no coherence. My publications remain valid.

    A final note (I tire of QiLeong’s distortions of the evidence). Walkersaurus hesperis (Waldman 1974) was printed in a limited 9 page run in late 1994; I don’t have any copies in my files (there were ca. 20 copies of these). On 4 July 1995 I sat down, and corrected some spelling errors in the text, and released the second (revised) printing on 25 July 1995 (50 copies). The research initially was begun by me in 1984, when, in my research on Ceratosauria for my The Dinosaur Fractals Project, I determined BMNH R332, R334-R335 is Ceratosauria not Megalosaurus on the basis of the presence of the subnarial gap and pit as in Coelophysoidea (convergent in Baryonyx). I shared the information with Sam sometime after he had published his Dilophosaurus monograph, and, with his participation, we totally revised the few pages he and H.P. Powell had collaborated on, and I expanded all of it (with my own research) in 1994. Sam and I, in the comparative osteologies, gave credit to H.P. Powell, and Sam and I shared credit on the name and initial two pages; the bibliographical work was mine, the diagnosis (with Sam’s overview), was mine, and we shared equally in the remaining pages.

    Thus, Walkersaurus Welles & Pickering 1994 has 14 years of priority over Duriavenator Benson 2008, and our publication meets ICZN 8.1.1, 8.1.2, 8.1.3.

    At this point, I do not care about the bombastic javelines of egregious insinuations hurled at me (QiLeong and Mr Williams are not free-lance dinosaur scientists). I shall, as I have said, be revising all of MUTANDA DINOSAUROLOGICA (and retaining the original publication dates of the papers released from it).

    I am hoping Rob Gay’s monograph enjoys the wide appreciation it deserves.

    STEPHAN PICKERING / Chofetz Chayim ben-Avraham
    The Dinosaur Fractals Project

  64. I’m going to be brief on this:

    The ICZN requires that all taxonomic works are valid on the initial printing only if they meet all other criteria (availability, durability, and accessibility). The initial print run, part of the “availability” prong, only provides validity for nomenclatural acts that occur in that run. A second printing with revisions are distinguishable from the original, and like other “editions” of books, constitute a new publication, rather than a continuation of the original run. This is part of the “simultaneously available” portion of Art. 8. So only one of these editions _should_ count. If so, that edition (or copies thereof, I think are permitted) should be deposited in several libraries that are accessible by the public. 20 is a horrendously low number, but at least 50 is better. If so, the second print run appears to be definitive, and you may claim that that edition is the correct one, and deposit that one instead of the first. If so, then the dates tied to nomenclature follow the deposited edition, not any prior version.

    This is of course grey-area. I really don’t care about the names, and I certainly don’t care which I have to use when I use them, but I would sure like to know that the methodology is sound, and it doesn’t look like it. Stephan, even Tracy and George think your work is unavailable nomenclaturally, and they seem your strongest public allies. What does that say to you?

  65. Walkersaurus Welles & Pickering 1994 is a valid taxon, with priority over Duriavenator Benson 2008. Ceratosaurus willisobrienorum is a valid taxon.

    So, too, are the other taxa (although I agree with Mickey Mortimer on the synonymy of one taxon).

    Your elucidations are, in Hebrew, pilpul. I am still awaiting your apologies to Tracy Ford, George Olshevsky, myself, and to the loving memory of Sam Welles. Why? Because, to be polite, you are creating echo-chamber phantasies, not rigorous phylogenetic nomenclature. I am weary of your constant borderline libelous/slanderous attempts to call me a liar. You are not in an ethical/moral position to dictate to me.

    My methodologies, need I add?, are in stark contrast to the fact you are not a dinosaur scientist, have never published. This is going to my last attempt to communicate with you. QiLeong; unlike Alice, I do not enjoy the Red Queen gambit of running in one place without changing position, and you have crossed the threshold with me, viz. I don’t want to say any words further. Mike Taylor has asked me, politely, to watch myself.

    L’Shana Tova.
    STEPHAN PICKERING / Chofetz Chayim ben-Avraham
    The Dinosaur Fractals Project

  66. Tim Says:

    Stephan – Jaime and I (among others) have raised the same question, which you have evaded on every occasion…

    There’s no escaping the fact that Tracy and George both regard Walkersaurus as a nomen nudum. This may be inconvenient to you, but please do not insult us by claiming that we (Jaime ans I) are not scientists.

    We can go to George’s “Dinosaur Genera List” and see the name ‘Walkersaurus’ followed by ‘nomen nudum’. Tracy’s website says the same thing. So does Mickey’s theropod website. It’s all there for anyone to see.

    So if George and Tracy and Mickey and Jaime and myself all regard your names as nomina nuda, why are you singling out myself and Jaime for criticism? It appears that NOBODY (apart from youself) regard your names as valid. This is not slander – it’s a fact of life.

  67. Tracy Ford Says:

    From a few of the recent posts that have been posted, I apparently have nomenclatural power! If I were to accept Gay’s theropod I believe I then can accept Stephen’s names as being valid. Thus I proclaim that I, Tracy Ford, with NP pronouce Gay’s and Pickerings names VALID!!! BUUHHHAAAAHHH HHAAHHH!

  68. Unfortunately, I know the difference between slander and libel, and Pickering apparently does not. I also have not claimed Pickering lied, only demonstrated things he claimed in print are untrue (and there is VERY little of this I have done). Pickering refuses to address on the issues raised on his work, although I a=have appreciated his candor in indicating that Welles, an apparent coauthor, helped “review” the work. I would retract my statements regarding the relative value of Pickering’s scientific writing versus his public writing, were I to have a sample of Welles’ MS and Pickering’s MS (a broad sample of the same data); until then, much of what I said was based on conversations with others, including Madsen, and I will not retract that.

    Pickering confuses the difference between a synonym and a valid name. A nomen validum does not require that it be accepted as the primary (senior) name for a taxon over others, only that it is not otherwise rejected, forgotten, is preoccupied, unaccompanied by the correct corresponding data, or a name for its own sake. Adam Yates recently argued that Ammosaurus major is a junior synonym of Anchisaurus polyzelus, but this still allows Ammosaurus major to be a valid name, just junior to another; it cannot otherwise be a synonym.

    But for Pickering to prove Walkersaurus is a valid name, he will have to prove that, at the time of his original dated printing, it was made publicly available, was accessible for purchase or as a gift by anyone, was produced in a durable manner, and that the edition being pointed to is not an emended version of a previous work (the applied edition must satisfy all criteria itself). I cannot find it on ILL, regardless of how broad an institution I go to, and of those who recall seeing it, or receiving it on original distribution they do not regard the taxonomy as valid (the general sentiment, as Dan Chure expressed, being that legitimate would should be published in legitimate venues); further, regardless of Pickering’s assertions, others who recall seeing the document have gained it years later, and still reject the taxonomy as valid. This has nothing to do with judgemental prowess, but it reflects on how Pickering’s chosen peers do not see things the way he does.

    Pickering assumes I insult him for reasons I have never raised, and for this I am sorry to say cannot be my fault. Tim, Mickey, Mike, and many, many others have tried to come to terms with Pickering, and it devolves into a state of name-calling, virtually all of it solely from Pickering’s pen. Like a egotist and a bully, Pickering finds these terms and comments “funny,” or “in jest,” often making “plays on words” when calling people a variety of things or asking them to get certain proctological treatments. None of this is mature. I cannot say that I’ve not gotten caught up in the heat of an ad hominem debate, but I refuse to at this point. I’ve made the case I chose to make, and defended what I said on the DML. Let him prove me wrong, and I will admit it publicly, as I’ve always done.

    People should be relieved this will be my last post on the topic; if they wish to communicate to me (Pickering is excluded except if he wants to email me some of these documents instead of emailing me screeds and insults), my email and my blog are available through the link above this post.

  69. Tracy Ford Says:

    Just out of curiosity, does anyone know Gilmoreteius LANGER, 1998?

  70. Tim Says:

    Replacement name for _Macrocephalosaurus_ (preoccupied).

    Langer, M.C. 1998. Gilmoreteiidae new family and _Gilmoreteius_ new genus (Squamata Scincomorpha): replacement names for Macrocephalosauridae
    Sulimski, 1975 and _Macrocephalosaurus_ Gilmore, 1943. _Comunicacoes do Museu de Ciencias e Tecnologia_ 11: 13-18.

  71. Tracy Ford Says:

    I only bring this up because it was from an obscure publication that not many know about. Norell didn’t know about it years ago. So, since it was from an obscure publication, does that make it invalid? In reference to what was being talked about earlier.

  72. Tim Says:

    Oh I see, you’re making a point. I thought I was being helpful… that’ll learn me.

    It doesn’t matter how obscure the publication is, as long as it’s validly published as per Article 8 of the Code.

    I assume Langer made the effort to establish a permanent scientific record for his paper.

  73. Tracy Ford Says:

    Yes, I was making a point. Go figure… You’ll have to ask Langer if he did as you ask. I was lucky to contact him when the paper came out and he sent me a copy. I’ve done my best to help pass it along to various paleontologist who study lizards to let them know of the name change.

  74. Sometimes obscure publications even give authors a chance, not intended I am sure, to follow it up with further work publicizing it. I argued once that increasingly digital publications will increase publicity, as the information spreads faster than by print. Ukrainsky’s Nedoceratops replaces Diceratus and Diceratops for Triceratops hatcheri (valid nomenclature, even if hatcheri is a synonym of either horridus, prorsus, or one of the Torosaurus taxa were they synonymous; and Megapnosaurus replaces Syntarsus for Syntarsus rhodesiensis (even if we call it Coelophysis rhodesiensis). Ukrainsky failed to make “widely known” the former, although Ivie, Slipinski & Wegrzynowicz were very public about theirs.

  75. Tim Says:

    I’ve come up with a few new dinosaur names of my own. I’m going to self-publish it in my scholarly masterpiece “King Tut: Unauthorized Egyptian Fraggles in Cleopatra.”

    I’m going to send it by mail to various paleontologists – but I’m not going to bother to establish a permanent scientific record. But I’m still going to insist that my names are valid.

  76. Tim Says:

    P.S. I’m joking.

  77. Tracy Ford Says:

    Go for it. I look forward to it also to the names you said you’d send to Playboy. I’m still waiting for those.

  78. Mike Taylor Says:

    Tim writes:

    I’ve come up with a few new dinosaur names of my own. I’m going to self-publish it in my scholarly masterpiece “King Tut: Unauthorized Egyptian Fraggles in Cleopatra.”

    Tim, knock it off, please. This discussion has teetered on the edge of remaining respectful as it is. This isn’t going to help.

  79. Tim Says:

    “Tim, knock it off, please. This discussion has teetered on the edge of remaining respectful as it is. This isn’t going to help.”

    Oh you think?

    What would help Mike is if you maybe exercised some moderation earlier on in this thread. While I’ve continually addressed as “Mr Williams”, and Jaime as “Qileong” (and various other permutations), you’ve been asleep at the wheel. But I offer one acerbic remark… and suddenly you wave the big stick. Jolly good show.

  80. Mike Taylor Says:

    Tim, read this comment again:
    What I am in fact doing is being consistent: requiring civilised behaviour from both you and Stephan (and Jaime).

    One more infraction from any of you and I’m going to knock this thread on the head. I don’t believe it’s likely to generate a whole lot more light anyway.

  81. Tim Says:

    Yes, and that comment worked wonders. I have a PhD, and the “Mr” was an obvious slur.

    I actually found your moderation to be extremely inconsistent. Pickering was kicked off the DML for refusing to address people with even a modicum of respect… but it’s apparently OK by you.

    But that’s just my opinion. I know… if I don’t like the way you run this blog, I’m welcome to leave. So that’s what I’ll do. See ya.

  82. Mike Taylor Says:

    With one bound, Tim was free.

    Didn’t see that coming.

  83. Tim Says:

    Yes, according to Tracy I’ve been kicked off. So this message won’t get through.


  84. Tracy Ford Says:

    With one bound, Tim was free.

    Didn’t see that coming.<<

    I guess I miss understoot this comment from Mike. I wonder where Tim got the information that I said he was kicked off?

  85. These are my taxa (in order of appearance). All are eextracts from MUTANDA DINOSAUROLOGICA (a separate table-of-contents for this is forthcoming in a separate posting). ALL of them meet ICZN 8.1.1, 8.1.2, 8.1.3, and, sometimes during the next 24 hours, Tracy Ford is recognising them at Paleo File ( as valid taxa. He and I disagree in certain areas on synonymies, but this is the list. Since neither Mr Williams nor QiLeong have EVER published on dinosaur taxa (neither of them are, frankly, scientists by any stretch of the imagination), and since Tracy Ford is, like George Olshevsky and I, a published free lance dinosaurologist, I keenly anticipate that Mr Williams and QiLeong will be posting public apologies.

    1) Altispinax von Huene 1923 Altispinax lydekkeri-huenensis Pickering 1984 BMNH R1828
    28 May 1984 [11pp]; revised printing: 16 August 1990 [21pp] , 25 July 1994 [as Altispinax lydekkerhueneorum nom. corr., 18pp] , 10 February 1995 [18pp], 16 August 1995 [18pp]

    2) Maleevosaurus Pickering 1984
    Maleevosaurus novojilovi (Maleev 1955)
    28 May 1984 [11pp]
    reprinted 31 August 1993, 12 September 1993
    25 July 1994, 4th printing
    25 July 1995, revised 5th printing [15pp]

    3) Megalosaurus Buckland & Conybeare in Buckland 1824
    Megalosaurus bucklandii Mantell 1827
    Osteology & comparisons: Welles, Powell, Pickering, 10 July 1994
    [119pp] + Errata sheet with corrected nomenclature dated 2000 prepared
    by Pickering

    Walkersaurus hesperis Welles, Powell, Pickering 1994 nomen nudum, page
    Metriacanthosaurus reynoldsi Welles, Powell, Pickering 1994 nomen
    nudum, page 30
    Metriacanthosaurus brevis Welles, Powell, Pickering 1994 nomen nudum,
    page 68
    Megalosaurus phillipsi Welles, Powell, Pickering 1994 nomen nudum,
    page 111

    4) Walkersaurus Welles, Powell, Pickering 1994
    Walkersaurus hesperis (Waldman 1974) Welles, Powell, Pickering 1994,
    25 July 1994 [9pp] [osteology & comparisons Welles, Powell, Pickering]
    2nd revised printing, 25 July 1995

    5) JURASSIC PARK: unauthorized Jewish fractals in philopatry, 27 January 1995 [ 478pp]
    Dilophosaurus breedorum sp. nov. Welles & Pickering 1995 nomen nudum
    page 85 (photograph of UCMP 77270)
    Ceratosaurus willisobrienorum sp. nov., Pickering 1995 nomen nudum
    page 350 [hypodigm designated as MWC skull/skeleton, Fruita Colorado; Cleveland-Lloyd Quarry disarticulated skull/skeleton UUVP 6743, 674, 1646, 6739, 155, 158]
    Tyrannosaurus stanwinstonorum Pickering 1995 nomen nudum page 350
    [type designated as Black Hills “Sue” skull + skeleton & SDSMT 12047
    skull & skeleton]
    Merosaurus newmani gen. sp. nov., Welles, Powell, Pickering 1995
    nomen nudum page 462
    Megalosaurus phillipsi sp. nov., Welles, Powell, Pickering 1994 nomen
    nudum page 462
    Metriacanthosaurus brevis sp. nov., Welles, Powell, Pickering 1994
    nomen nudum page 462
    Metriacanthosaurus reynoldsi sp. nov., Welles, Powell, Pickering 1994
    nomwn nudum page 462
    Liassaurus huenei gen. sp. nov., Welles, Powell, Pickering 1995
    nomen nudum page 463

    6) ?Elaphrosaurus philtippettensis Pickering 16 August 1995 [2pp]

    7) Dilophosaurus breedorum Welles 1995 [osteology & comparisons Welles & Pickering], 16 August 1995 [70pp]

    8) Merosaurus newmani Welles & Powell 1995 [osteology & comparisons Welles, Powell, Pickering] 16 August 1995 [11pp]

    9) THE LOST WORLD: one more piece of the puzzle, 28 December 1995, 4 pp
    Tyrannosaurus stanwinstonorum Pickering 1995 BHI 2033 nomen nudum page 2
    Allosaurus whitei Pickering 1995 AMNH 5753 nomen nudum page 4

    10) KING KONG: unauthorized Jewish fractals in philopatry, pp. 5-13
    [pagination continuing from # 9], 4 April 1996
    Allosaurus whitei Pickering 1995, page 10: name, stratigraphy,
    hypodigm, diagnosis
    Tyrannosaurus stanwinstonorum Pickering 1995, page 10: name,
    stratigraphy, hypodigm, diagnosis
    Ceratosaurus willisobrienorum Pickering 1995, page 13: name,
    stratigraphy, hypodigm, diagnosis

    As noted above, all of these taxa meet ICZN 8.1.1, 8.1.2, 8.1.3, contra the bombast of Mr Williams, QiLeong, et al., who are insinuating that I am some kind of fraud — this coming from two individuals are not dinosaur scientists. QiLeong is insisting that I allow him to invade my privacy, and allow him access to my private archives to see the collaborative work that, years ago, I did with Sam Welles. This will never happen; I don’t have to answer to QiLeong. He is not my ‘peer’, to say the least. My late beloved wife Faline (zikhronah livrakhah) put up the funds for these papers to be published, and, together with our son Earl Brian (who died unexpectedly of a heart attack 23 October 2009), helped me label envelopes and mail them as they were published. I had the distinct honour of being mentored by Sam Welles…and the memories of he and I and Faline walking, on a cool night near our home then in Capitola, talking about Willis O’Brien’s beautiful beasts…about William Buckland’s pets…about megalosaurs and dilophosaur ‘spitters’ — this are seered into my soul.

    For several days now, I have endured absolute crap from the DML sandbox…unable, like Tracy Ford and George Olshevsky (both whom have been insulted time and again by Mr Williams et al.) to respond to outright lies. After today, their sandbox will be eerily quiet.

    I am deeply grateful to Tracy Ford (who, by the way, also recognises Rob Guy’s new taxon as valid). And a special note of thanks to Mike Taylor, as well.

    STEPHAN PICKERING / Chofetz Chayim ben-Avraham
    The Dinosaur Fractals Project

  86. Mike Taylor Says:

    I wrote:

    One more infraction from any of you and I’m going to knock this thread on the head. I don’t believe it’s likely to generate a whole lot more light anyway.

    And Stephan’s response was, in part:

    Since neither Mr Williams nor QiLeong have EVER published on dinosaur taxa (neither of them are, frankly, scientists by any stretch of the imagination) …

    (For anyone who doesn’t know, Tim Williams holds a Ph.D: Stephan’s pointed and repeated references to “Mr Williams” are a deliberate slur. That and the “neither of them are scientists” consistitutes two more infractions.)

    That’s your lot, Stephan — no more posts on this article, thank you. If I see a repeat offence, and I’ll ban you from the blog completely.

  87. Mike Taylor:
    Shalom & good afternoon/boker tov.
    My apologies.

  88. Mike Taylor Says:

    Apology accepted.

  89. Hmm. I’ve been away from this thread too long it seems and have been mentioned a few times.

    First, I agree with Parker that having no publication record, there are better choices for peer reviewers than myself. However, I do offer my services for review of any theropod papers (including Pickering’s) by anyone, for what it’s worth.

    Second, while I did offer to scan Pickering’s papers (except the Megalosaurus one which I lack) for conversion into pdf form, I haven’t been able to do so yet due to distraction by other work. Official or not (mostly not in my opinion), I do support the availability of all released information.

    Third, I’ve been consistantly praised by Pickering here and have recently defended the quality and process of his Archosauromorpha papers on the DML (at least in comparison to the Madsen and Welles Ceratosaurus monograph and Gay’s book). I echo Ford’s statement to Headden here that it’s not fair to judge Pickering’s papers on the merits of his King Kong and Jurassic Park works alone.

    HOWEVER, I wish to also place on the record my opinion that Pickering’s behavior relative to Williams and Headden has been extremely unprofessional. Similarly, the tone of his recent postings here and in his CC’d emails regarding the immanent publication of his names in a form similar to Gay’s has been concerning in its vindictiveness. If these are indeed published in a manner which I believe meets ICZN requirements, I’ll maintain my prior commitment to be unbiased regardless of personal feelings about the author. And thus like Ford, I’ll recognize them as valid. But I’ll not feel good about it, as I think Pickering’s actions and methodology leave a lot to be desired.

    Finally, a note for Pickering to not forget ICZN Article 10.1, which states that names are only valid at the time they first meet the ICZN’s requirements. Thus if “Merosaurus” was not valid when you sent out the initial few copies in 1995, but you validly publish it this year, the 2010 date is the valid one. “Walkersaurus” would remain a junior synonym of Duriavenator even if you publish it on today.

  90. Tim Says:

    Mickey, the word “unprofessional” is an understatement. Below is an excerpt from a diatribe that was recently written and disseminated by Pickering, about myself.

    “He also, on occasion, sees fit to expostulate his predictable, egregious Jew-baiting rants toward me. Again, one can only be sanguine about it all: Mr Williams has never published authentic scientific research by himself…and, now, continues his nonsense that my dinosaur research is predicated on nomina nuda or nomina dubia. What an incredible array of bullshit. Mr Williams is a quackery specialist, a charlatan, a deliberate knowing liar. He is protected from my legal efforts against him only because he is separated by oceans. Someday, that will change, and he will find himself standing in an Australian legal dock, answering very serious charges. As he lacks character — his marriage is a sham, just like his ‘dissertation’ — it should be quite an interesting theatricality.”

    Note the slur against my wife, which I find not only bewildering, but also highly revealing in terms of Pickering’s character and state of mind.

    Thus, in light of what you say (“Pickering’s actions and methodology leave a lot to be desired.”), I’m not sure why you want to act as an enabler to this person. Why not do what every self-respecting paleontologist does and simply ignore him? When you’re in the supermarket and you see a child screaming in the aisle, bawling for attention, the best policy is to ignore the kid – not offer him candy.

  91. Tracy Ford Says:

    Tim what you just posted was something he wrote on his list. And I find it unethical of you for posting it on this list. Didn’t Mike say play nice? How is this playing nice? Unless you are trying to cause trouble here? Why bring up that up on this list unless you are trying to get him booted off of this one. I hope Mike sees through this and takes approprate action.

  92. Tim Says:

    No Tracy. It wasn’t JUST posted to his list. He also sent it as an email to a number of people. Two individuals (both professional paleontologists, and both of whom were disgusted by the message) forwarded the message to me.

    Tracy, when it comes to ethics, you’re about as objective and one-eyed as a Pakistani umpire.

  93. Tracy Ford Says:

    Just curious, how do you know he sent the PRIVATE message to a number of people and two professional paleontologist. I won’t go into name calling with you. I’m going to respect Mike’s wish. :)

  94. Tim Says:

    Ummm.. because they told me.

    I’m not saying any more. I feel like I need a hot shower.

  95. Tracy Ford Says:

    Hmmm…how odd. I would think they would have told me…Interesting…enjoy your shower.

  96. Tracy Ford Says:

    What is also interesting is that I don’t have a copy of that ‘rant’. Stephen sends them to me and I’ve double checked his list and there is no such message/post in his archives. Interesting…

  97. Mike Taylor Says:

    HOLY POOP, people, will you please give it a rest?

    I wake up this morning to find you’ve been sniping at least other again?

    As promised, comments are now closed on this article — the first time we’ve had to do this in nearly three years spanning 212 articles. Several of you are close to being permanently banned from commenting here, which I really really don’t want to do.

    I will close this thread by making a terribly obvious, even patronising point: in scientific fields, you get treated as a professional by behaving professionally. (Being an amateur myself, I have no cause for complaint here: it’s been very rare that anyone in palaeo has looked down on me simply because no-one pays me to do what I do.)

    All of us who want to be taken seriously in the world of science must remember this: that every time you abuse a forum like this one or the DML to perpetuate your petty personal feuds, you lessen yourself in the eyes of your peers. We’re here to do science folks, nothing more and certainly nothing less.

    If you want a public forum to quarrel in, go and do it on Facebook, or start your own blog or something. Better still, keep the childish squabbling to private email, so the rest of us don’t have witness the sordid spectacle.

    So, finally: you are remain welcome to discuss science on SV-POW!. No-one is welcome to use it as a vehicle for personal attacks.

    Transmission ends.

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