Shrinking taxa means more room on the ark!

I knew this was coming. There was an interesting taxonomic consolidation recently: Torosaurus is accused of being simply an older Triceratops, so those two taxa are being lumped into one, Triceratops. Jack Horner is suggesting that Nanotyrannus was simply a juvenile T. rex. These kinds of adjustments of the taxonomy happen all the time, both as more data becomes available, and as lumpers make more noise than splitters (a process that can be reversed, of course). It is not a big deal.

Except to creationists, who are overjoyed that combining two species into one means that “the Ark cargo was even lighter than previously thought”. There’s also some crowing about those arrogant scientists being wrong wrong wrongity-wrong wrong ding-dong! Gloating over an occasional error would be much more impressive if they also ever acknowledged the many times scientists have been right, and the creationists wrong.

Like this time: a little taxonomical shuffling does not salvage the story of God and the big boat. Triceratops/Torosaurus are still 70 million years old, and the fact that dinosaurs underwent morphological changes as they matured deep in the Cretaceous does not suddenly make the idea that they were living in the Middle East 6000 years ago and taking a year long cruise any more plausible.

Maybe they’re just hoping that if the paleontologists keep consolidating taxa they’ll eventually get to the point where all the dinosaurs are lumped into one species called Behemoth. That’s not going to happen either.


  1. Zeta_Metroid says

    @ Iain Walker # 243

    I’m in a fairly expansive mood at the moment, so I’ll overlook the transparent evasion.

    Sometimes conversations are just better if you focus on one topic.

    (5-toed theropods? Please).

    Actually, that’s spot on. From

    “…three main (weight-bearing) toes on the pes (foot); the first and fifth digits are reduced.”

    So, they did have five toes, its just that two of them were “reduced”.

    …the inaccuracies in the Ica stone depictions show a noticeable bias, in that they are consistent with popular depictions of dinosaurs from the 1950s and early 60s.

    Not so, as I said above, in that time they would have been said to show the “brontosaurus” with the wrong head.

    Theropods are shown standing upright…

    Doesn’t seem that way to me. If this one’s head weren’t turned: , it’d be even more hunched.

    …sauropods are shown with highly flexible necks…

    Which do you think show them with unrealistic flexibility?

    …tails are generally shown dragging rather than held in the air.

    Not here:

    On which stones have you found the tail position to be troubling?

    Those are kind of depictions you’d expect if Uschuya…

    What’s with the obsession over this guy? Somebody says he’s made some fakes and you guys act like all the stones have got a “Made in Taiwan” sticker.
    I’d hate to have a dicussion about baseball card collecting here…

    …such as dromaeosaurs…

    It might be possible the center stone shows a stylized raptor:
    But, even if I’m unable to find any that definitely show a raptor, and none are found, the exclusion of a certain type of dinosaur doesn’t show the stones are fake. What’s important are the dinosaurs that are on the stones that the lab has confirmed are authentic.

    …or spinosaurs.

    Those lived in Africa, didn’t they?
    Regardless, there actually are quite a few carnivorous dinosaurs shown with sails, such as the center one here: and the ones on the left-center stone.

    …those species that can be identified with any confidence (e.g., Triceratops)…

    A lot of dinosaurs look like triceratops, but aren’t necessarily that species.
    And, even though they’re rare, cerotopsids from the Soutern Hemisphere are known, such as notoceratops.

    Dinosaurs more typical of the southern hemisphere (e.g., Abelisaurids…

    Plenty of dinosaurs on the stones could easily be seen as those. See the two-legged one in the middle here, for example:

    …or Dicraeosaurids) are conspicuous by their absence.

    Wait, I’m confused: first you complain that the stones show sauropods with necks that are too flexible, now you’re saying they don’t show any sauropods…?

    And to return briefly to the subject you don’t want to talk about ….

    Not because I believe my position on it is indefensible, bear in mind, but because I’d really like to focus on the stones, bear in mind.