For those who want to catch up, here's a few links, which have all unfolded in the bloggy goss-o-sphere (these are from The Loom, but check literally any paleo or science blog for more):
- Darwinius Changes Everything, Or Not
- Science Held Hostage
- Does Darwinius Exist?
- ...Not Yet
- Ok now it does
Anyway, the whole controversy over Darwinius not meeting ICZN standards for valid publication has implication for dinosaurs as well. Namely, Aerosteon and Panphagia, both of which were published in the same online journal, PLoS ONE. Now, you'd think an online journal would go out of its way to make sure species published in it were valid, however this does not seem to be the case. It's apparently on the authors to make sure their papers have proper printing and distribution to meet ICZN criteria. Aerosteon and Panphagia, as far as we know, do not meet these criteria and are not valid names. Their papers are unpublished manuscripts at this point. If and when the names are printed in 50 or more copies and made publicly available for sale or to libraries, then they'll be valid, but at least the year of publication for Aerosteon will need to be amended from 2008 to 2009, assuming it happens this year. The same goes for the early whale Maiacetus, which is a Stinking Mammal.
Because of all the hype and the potential PR fallout should somebody pull an Aeto-Gate on "Ida" (Rioarribasimius as Mike Taylor jokingly threatened), PLoS ONE has acted quickly and pushed Darwinius through the proper print channels, checked with the ICZN higher-ups, and gotten the green light. Who will think of the poor dinosaurs in all this?
So, a warning to anyone publishing online: Make sure you arrange for a print run of your paper. Think of poor Epidendrosaurus--there but by the grace of the ICZN go you.