-ops genera and family names

Margaret K. Thayer mthayer at FIELDMUSEUM.ORG
Wed Aug 14 21:46:15 CDT 2002

Grammar-based answer:
The word ops is Greek (eye or face), with its genitive being opos.  Since
the stem of this is -op-, the horn-faced dinosaurs should be
Ceratopidae.  Newton & Thayer 1992 (Fieldiana, Zoology, N.S. No 67, which
includes discussions of several sorts of cases like this.) found and
corrected a few family-group names like this in Coleoptera:
Staphyliniformia that had been formed incorrectly, although others had been
correctly formed.


ICZN-based answer:
The current ICZN (4th ed.) has relaxed the use of Latin/Greek grammar in
forming stems for family-group names (see Art. 29), so in the case of
Ceratops (unless there are issues of avoiding homonymy of family-group
names) the "prevailing usage" should be maintained, regardless of which
spelling that is and whether it was the original spelling.  If MOST workers
are spelling it with the "s", that version would "win" under the code now
in effect.

If the now-current Code had been in effect at the time, some of the
corrections we made in our 1992 paper would not have been needed.  Some
ideas in this area were under discussion at the time for inclusion in the
next edition of the Code, but since there was no way to predict reliably
what proposed changes would actually become part of the Code, we had no
choice but to follow the then-current one (3rd ed.)

Margaret Thayer
(no Code Warrior, just a Latin/Greek semi-geek)

At 01:30 AM 15-08-02 +0000, Ken Kinman wrote:
>Dear Code Warriors:
>      Most workers are used to spelling it Ceratopsidae, but there are some
>who insist that it has to be Ceratopidae (without the "s").

Margaret K. Thayer              mthayer at fieldmuseum.org
Assistant Curator, Zoology, and Head, Division of Insects
Field Museum of Natural History       http://www.fieldmuseum.org
1400 South Lake Shore Drive
Chicago IL 60605-2496, USA
PHONE: +1-312-665-7741 (direct-dial)
FAX: +1-312-665-7754

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