Are Paleontologists Naming Too Many Species?

Friday, March 16, 2018

Ichthyosaur skeleton Niedersächsisches Landesmuseum Lower Saxony State Museum Germany (2)

A complete new examination taking a gander at varieties in Ichthyosaurus, a typical British Jurassic ichthyosaur (maritime reptile) otherwise called ‘Ocean Dragons’, has given essential data into perceiving new fossil species.

Professor Judy Massare (SUNY College at Brockport, NY, USA) and Dean Lomax (The University of Manchester) have examined many examples of Ichthyosaurus. After their most recent research project, the pair urge caution in naming new fossil species on the basis of just a few fragmentary or isolated remains.

For their examination, Prof Massare and Lomax concentrated on one specific piece of the Ichthyosaurus skeleton, the hindfin (or back oar). The reason for existing was to assess the distinctive structures among the six-known types of Ichthyosaurus. They inspected 99 examples which could give valuable data.

Ichthyosaur skeleton Niedersächsisches Landesmuseum Lower Saxony State Museum Germany (2)

Early in their research, they found different types of hindfin that initially appeared to represent different species. However, the more specimens they examined the more ‘variation’ they uncovered, such as differences in the size and number of bones. They determined that a single hindfin alone could not be used to distinguish among species of Ichthyosaurus, but that a particular variation was more common in certain species.

Their discoveries demonstrate that with just a couple of examples, highlights can be discovered that vary significantly starting with one example then onto the next and in this way show up as though there are a few animal categories. Though, as a general rule, with a significantly bigger example measure the holes in the ‘one of a kind’ varieties are filled in, demonstrating that distinctions are essentially the aftereffect of individual variation and an absence of the full picture.

Prof Massare said: “We described a few hindfins, which might have been called a new species if they were found in isolation. Instead, we had enough specimens to determine that it was just an extreme variation of a common form.”

Scientists can be categorized as one of two camps with regards to naming species, ‘lumpers’ and ‘splitters’. The previous ‘protuberance’ gatherings of comparable examples together, though the last pick to part up examples and recognize new species. Be that as it may, in this new examination, if the group picked to part up the examples in view of the variety discovered, it would propose an immense number of animal varieties.

“On the off chance that we thought about the variety as interesting, it would mean we would name around 30 new species. This would be like what was done in the Nineteenth Century when any new fossil find, from another area or skyline, was named as another species on the off chance that it varied marginally from already known examples.

“As bunches of new fossil species are named each year, at times, for example, with fragmentary or restricted remains, the choice to name another species ought to be viewed as deliberately.”

The new study has been published today in the scientific journal, Geological Magazine.