Xantus' Hummingbird (was Honorific Names etc.)

Doug Yanega dyanega at DENR1.IGIS.UIUC.EDU
Wed Dec 6 11:15:24 CST 1995

>Xantus does indeed have a hummingbird named in his honor, but it is
>_Hylocharis xantusii_ (the English common names are Xantus Hummingbird
>or Black-fronted Hummingbird), not "Xantusia" (as suggested by Timothy
>Ross), and never was. (It was described by Lawrence as _Amazilia
>Xantusii_ in 1860). It is endemic to southern Baja California.
>Hummingbirds I know, Code arguments I leave to the rest of you.
>Rob Colwell

Okay, but still no one has given a definitive answer to the question that
started this thread (though several opinions have been stated, and several
botnaical examples used), and I can use the above example to re-pose it:
once a name HAS been published as the above, even if it was formed
incorrectly, are subsequent authors allowed to simply come in and choose
how they wish to spell it? Suppose someone published a monograph on the
Hummingbirds of Mexico and called it _Hylocharis xantusi_ - if I then come
along and publish a field guide, whose spelling do I recognize then: the
original author (_xantusii_) or the more recent monograph (_xantusi_)??
Again, I know for a fact that normal spelling changes must be demonstrably
in error to be changed; an example I am personally familiar with is the
common bumblebee, _Bombus pensylvanicus_ DeGeer, which is normally seen in
the literature as _pennsylvanicus_. But DeGeer and many of his
contemporaries (Beauvois, Haldeman, Lepeletier, Saussure, even Linnaeus)
commonly spelled it with one N, so there is no reason to consider it an
"error", whether it is *proper* or not. It was just unclear to me whether
the same rule applied to honorific epithets, and I'm still uncertain,
though *opinion* seems to be that the original spelling should stand. If
I'm going to buck the trend, I'd like something more substantial on which
to base my actions.

Doug Yanega       Illinois Natural History Survey, 607 E. Peabody Dr.
Champaign, IL 61820 USA      phone (217) 244-6817, fax (217) 333-4949
 affiliate, Univ. of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, Dept. of Entomology
  "There are some enterprises in which a careful disorderliness
        is the true method" - Herman Melville, Moby Dick, Chap. 82

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