At last it can be told!
May 10, 2011
People who’ve been paying especially close attention may have noted than on four separate occasions in the last eighteen months, I’ve casually referred to our old buddy HMN SII as the paralectotype specimen of Giraffatitan brancai. (Butchering a wallaby, photographing big bones, How fat was Camarasaurus, and baby giraffe neck, in case you were wondering.)
But in my Big Brachiosaur Bonanza (Taylor 2009:788), I nominated HMN SII as the lectotype of this species. So why all this paralectotype stuff? Well, what I wrote in the paper was:
The original type specimen, “Skelett S” (Janensch, 1914:86) was subsequently found (e.g., Janensch, 1929:8) to consist of two individuals, which were designated SI (the smaller) and SII (the larger and more complete). Janensch never explicitly designated these two specimens as a syntype series or nominated either specimen as a lectotype; I therefore propose HMN SII as the lectotype specimen of Brachiosaurus brancai.
But in May last year, I got an email from Mark Konings, a dinosaur enthusiast from the Netherlands, pointing out (more politely than I deserved) that I’d got this wrong. In fact, Janensch did nominate a lectotype — the wrong one, SI, but we’re stuck with it. He did this in a paper on skulls (Janensch 1935-1936:151), which is why I overlooked it. (Well, that and the fact that he rather inconsiderately wrote in German.)
Once I’d been shown my mistake, I realised that the only thing to do was formally correct it in JVP, where the original article had been, so I sent them the shortest and most boring manuscript I’ve ever written (and it is up against some pretty stiff competition in the “most boring” category). And that manuscript was published today (Taylor 2011), fixing my dumb mistake.
Many thanks to Mark for spotting this!
- Janensch, Werner. 1935-36. Die Schadel der Sauropoden Brachiosaurus, Barosaurus und Dicraeosaurus aus den Tendaguru-Schichten Deutsch-Ostafrikas. Palaeontographica 2 (Suppl. 7) 2:147-298.
- Taylor, Michael P. 2009. A re-evaluation of Brachiosaurus altithorax Riggs 1903 (Dinosauria, Sauropoda) and its generic separation from Giraffatitan brancai (Janensch 1914). Journal of Vertebrae Paleontology 29(3):787-806.
- Taylor, Michael P. 2011. Correction: a re-evaluation of Brachiosaurus altithorax Riggs 1903 (Dinosauria, Sauropoda) and its generic separation from Giraffatitan brancai (Janensch 1914). Journal of Vertebrae Paleontology 31(3):727.