An Oviraptorosaur Alphabet

When a new taxon being described and in press by Lü Junchang and colleagues, there will be 32 uniquely named species. Some of these may be synonyms, some rather assuredly are, of other species; but most of these are broadly considered unique species. Now, it’s no secret that I argue for unique binomial nomenclature for species, as it makes things just so much more elegant and easier to work with when it comes to playing the systematist. So in tallying up oviraptorosaurs, I find an interesting thing. With a potential range of 26 names that may begin with a unique letter, oviraptorosaurs represent 16 17 of those letters, and not even all the most common ones: left out of the oviraptorosaur initial-letter arrangement we have 10 9 letters left over, DFQTUVXZ.

Edit 1: Added Ganzhousaurus nankangensis, Wulatelong gobiensis and “Leptorhynchos” gaddisi as new taxa. “Leptorhynchos” does not yet qualify as a new name, though gaddisi does, as no type species was designated. Another purported oviraptorosaur is possible, Ninguansaurus yangi — which slipped through the literature cracks for three months, and was published in 2012 by Ji, Lü, Wei & Wang — although the material present features not found in other oviraptorosaurs, such as epipophyses on the cervical vertebrae, elongated caudal vertebrae, an inverted “T“-shaped ischium as in unenlagiine and microraptoran deinonychosaurs, a splint-like proximal MTIII, and extremely large supposed second pedal ungual. Addition of Wulatelong gobiensis results in a reduction to 9 letters left of the alphabet. This brings the total number of named oviraptorosaurian species to 35.

Edit 2: Added Jiangxisaurus ganzhouensis. It may end up being synonymous with another “Ganzhou oviraptorid” like Banji long or Ganzhousaurus nankangensis, as they all derive from the same place. Addition of Jiangxisaurus ganzhouensis results in a reduction to 8 letters left of the alphabet. This brings the total number of named oviraptorosaurian species to 36.

Edit 3: Leptorhynchos is now valid, with gaddisi designated the type species. This revises edit 1.

Edit 4: The Hell Creek oviraptorosaur has been named, Anzu wyliei.

Now, there are several undescribed, and potentially unique, species to be had, especially MPC-D 100/42 (“IGM 100/42“), which if the common attribution of “Zamyn Khond[t] oviraptorine” is any suggestion, might occupy the “Z” slot. There is also the “mitred” oviraptorid (PXO X678), “Big Beak” (PIN uncatalogued and on perpetual tour), and the Hell Creek oviraptorosaur (CM 78000, CM 78001). Caudipteryx may contain as many as two species, though whether these are zoui and dongi, or zoui and another species with a seemingly more plesiomorphic skull and dongi as a synonym of zoui, remains to be seen. These taxa can be evocative, especially if their describers choose to employ figurative, mythological, or descriptive weight to their nomenclature, rather than the convention of “place-name-asaurus” and similar “boring” names. “Ingeniayanshini is also in need of a replacement name, and with “I” taken relatively comfortingly by Incisivosaurus gauthieri, this may take another slot.

Additionally, it has been suggested by a few authors that Calamospondylus oweni (Fox, 1866) and Thecocoelurus daviesi (Seeley, 1888) might be oviraptorosaurs (see Holtz, 2011 [online] and Naish, Hutt & Martill, 2001, respectively), though these suggestions are qualified on general characteristics common to a broader clade, and for example may permit the latter to be a therizinosauroid as well (Kirkland et al., 2004).

Now, I have no intentions of providing these names, but it is an interesting idea. I am currently now entertaining the notion of providing a small “book-like” object that may be useful for authors and artists to compile oviraptorosaur-specific stuff, in the theme of various stories and discussions of these taxa as might be had as an introduction to the taxa themselves.

Ajancingenia yanshini(Barsbold, 1981) Easter, 2013
Anzu wyliei Lamanna, Sues, Schachner, Lyson, 2014
Avimimus portentosus Kurzanov, 1981
Banji long Xu & Han, 2010
Caenagnathasia martinsoni Currie, Godfrey & Nessov, 1994
Caenagnathus collinsi = see Chirostenotes pergracilis? Sternberg, 1940
Caenagnathus sternbergi = see Elmisaurus elegans? Cracraft, 1972
Caudipteryx zoui Ji, Norell, Currie & Ji, 1998
Caudipteryx dongi = Caudipteryx zoui? zhou & Wang, 2000
Chirostenotes pergracilis Sternberg, 1924
Citipati osmsolskae Clark, Norell & Barsbold, 2000
Conchoraptor gracilis Barsbold, 1986
Elmisaurus rarus Osmólska, 1981
Elmisaurus elegans (Parks, 1933) [Ornithomimus elegans Parks, 1933]
Epichirostenotes curriei Sullivan, Jasinski & van Tomme, 2011
Ganzhousaurus nankangensis Wang, Sun, Sullivan & Xu, 2013
Gigantoraptor erlianensis Xu, Tan, Wang, Zhao & Tan, 2007
Hagryphus giganteus Zanno & Sampson, 2005
Heyuannia huangi Lü, 2002
Incisivosaurus gauthieri Xu, Wang & Chang, 2002
Jiangxisaurus ganzhouensis Wei,Pu, Xu, Liu & Lü, 2013
Khaan mckennai Clark, Norell & Barsbold, 2000
Leptorhynchos gaddisi Longrich, Barnes, Clarke & Millar, 2013
Luoyanggia liudianensis Lü, Xu, Jiang, Jia, Zhang & Ji, 2009
Machairasaurus leptonychus Longrich, Currie & Dong, 2010
Macrophalangia canadensis Sternberg, 1932
Microvenator celer Ostrom, 1970
Nankangia jiangxiensis Lü, Yi, Zhong & Wei, 2013
Nemegtomaia barsboldi (Lü, Tomida, Azuma, Dong & Lee, 2004)
Nomingia gobiensis Barsbold, Osmólska, Watabe, Currie & Tsogtbaatar, 2000
Ojoraptorsaurus boerei Sullivan, Jasinski & van Tomme, 2011
Oviraptor philoceratops Osborn, 1924
Protarchaeopteryx robusta Ji & Ji, 1997
Rinchenia mongoliensis (Barsbold, 1986)
Shixinggia oblita Lü & Zhang, 2005
Similicaudipteryx yixianensis He, Wang & Zhao, 2008
Wulatelong gobiensis Xu, Tan, Wang, Sullivan, Hone, Han, Ma, Tan & Xiao, 2013
Yulong mini Lü, Currie, Xu, Zhang, Pu & Jia, 2013

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9 Responses to An Oviraptorosaur Alphabet

  1. Mike Taylor says:

    “It’s no secret that I argue for unique binomial nomenclature for species.”

    What do you mean by the phrase “unique binomial nomenclature”?

    • Giraffatitan brancai for Brachiosaurus brancai … on the grounds that each species should be unique from one another — the whole name is unique, and the whole name comprises the “species name.” You’re familiar with the Phylocode, and we’ve discussed this before. The argument is that no multispecific fossil taxa (of perhaps just sauropsidans to start with) should exist; no “genera.” Rather than work on the backlog (I had a post on Archosauria’s multispecific taxa), I suggest starting initially: new taxa to be named, save that they cause paraphyly, should be unique binomina.

      • Mike Taylor says:

        I know we’ve been round related issues before, and I’m sorry if I’m being dense here, but I am still not following what you’re actually proposing should be done. You say “unique binomina” but for course every way of using the current rules yields unique binomia (i.e. no two species have the same combination of generic and specific name).

        So are you saying that each species should be placed in its own genus, so that the generic names alone are unique across all species? Or that we should treat the ” sequence as a single word which happens to be spelled with a space in the middle, and which is unique across all species, and that no species should ever be “moved to” another genus? Or something different?

        (I’m not trying to argue with your position here, just understand exactly what it is.)

        • No, a binomial species. No “genera.” No ranks. There’s ONE taxon, one clade, one species, and it just happens to follow the convention “Praenomen epithet,” but instead that would be “Spe cies.”

          • Mike Taylor says:

            OK, so a single name that has a space in the middle.

            I’d be reasonably happy with that arrangement, if only we could persuade the world to adopt it. It would take a lot of education to get everyone out of the habit of assuming that the first half of the name contained phylogenetic information.

          • I don’t think a single convention will work. That’s why I am attempting the joint conventions of attacking the Linnaean System as illogical and unsupportable, and supporting the logic of phylogenetic nomenclature: A single name is unique, with a single meaning and application. Caudipteryx, zoui and dongi are three names, and they discuss three taxa, but they are used to only describe two species. But the convention is to treat Caudipteryx zoui as a unique name, not as two names, and so one is dependent upon the other. If we apply the principle that the names are dependent, we have a “unique binomen” and the most common Linnaean rank becomes less useful. As the “genus” is valueless on its own, we abandon it and its convention (two unique taxa, separated from species), and instead assign to species both names, with a median split, that forms the convention of the “genus-species couplets” but lacks it’s baggage. It’s also why I tend not to use “S. cies” as a convention of annotation. How far we take this practice is part of the debate.

  2. Pingback: Belated Leptorhynchos | The Bite Stuff

  3. Vahe says:


    As you are no doubt aware, Easter (2013) has just coined the genus Ajancingenia as a replacement name for Ingenia. We had known for years that the genus Ingenia was preoccupied but Easter now has stolen everyone’s thunder in renaming the oviraptorosaur. With Ingenia now renamed Ajancingenia, this action takes care of the one of the last two of the preoccupied non-avian theropod names (Coelosaurus Leidy 1865 is preoccupied by Coelosaurus Owen 1854 and should be renamed [unless the ICZN is petitioned to suppress Owen’s name on the grounds of non-usage in the literature]).

    Easter, J. (2013). “A new name for the oviraptorid dinosaur “Ingenia” yanshini (Barsbold, 1981; preoccupied by Gerlach, 1957)”. Zootaxa 3737 (2): 184–190. doi:10.11646/zootaxa.3737.2.6. edit

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