STL Science Center

STL Science Center

02 February 2016

A Scholarly Serendipaceratops

I skipped yesterday's post ignominiously. I was not pleased with the idea that I was about to post something that had no content; there are no movies or documentaries that discuss Serendipaceratops online and, as far as I can tell, there may not be anything, even news, that broadcast the discovery or details about the dinosaur ever. The questionable nature of the dinosaur's validity makes this make a lot of sense. However, the debatable nature of the dinosaur lends itself really well to Tuesday and the discussion of papers that are available on the dinosaur. After 10 years of being excavated, shelved, and described the announcing publication for Serendipaceratops was made available in Records of the Queen Victoria Museum. It did not take long for the collaborative description (Dale Russell was consulted as well) to be questioned and thrown out by other researchers. In 2010 Agnolin,et al. analyzed the fossil and determined that the dinosaur was nomen dubium. Presently the last word rests with Rich et al. who, in 2014,  team admitted that the dinosaur was enigmatic at best when they named the new genus. However, the team re-examined the fossil and determined that the holotype was distinctively different from other known ulnae and distinctive enough to be diagnostic as a holotype for the named genus. This argument may be long from over and more fossils may be discovered eventually, but it has been 16 years, so no one is waiting with baited breath at the moment. The fact that the argument is not simply cladistic/taxonomic lumpers and splitters arguing about the position of a fossil is promising regardless. Typically the debates of lumping and splitting taxa have a potential risk of becoming ugly and bitter. This debate, as yet, does not appear to have turned that corner.

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