This seems a rather ignorant thing to say: http://www.physorg.com/news91889915.html They're talking about originally defining Pluto as a planet, but see bold: "...At the time, there was a debate about what to call this thing. There weren't that many options. Can you call it an asteroid? People knew about asteroids at this point, but the asteroids were all in this little band between Mars and Jupiter. A comet? Comets are known to have orbits that loop way out and then come back in, so it kind of looks like a comet, but comets are defined by the fact that they have tails -- the gas expanding out from it. So it clearly didn't fit the bill of comet. So by default, "planet" was really the only thing it could be..."