Genus and type designation question

Richard L. Brown moth at RA.MSSTATE.EDU
Tue Nov 28 15:14:29 CST 1995

Doug Yanega wrote:

>A colleague here (not on the Net) brought me a confusing problem today, and
>I told him I'd try to solicit opinions from you all;
>The story begins with a genus of Noterid beetles, Suphis, originally known
>from Africa and South America. Crotch, in 1873, discussed another genus,
>Colpius, which he felt was likely to be a junior synonym of Suphis, but he
>stated that if this were true, the American species included in Suphis
>(_Noterus bicolor_ Say, _Suphis lineatus_ Horn, and _Suphis puncticollis_
>Crotch, which he described therein) "might receive the name Suphisellus".
>This hypothesis proved correct, with Colpius becoming synonymized under
>Suphis later, and Sharp in 1880 recognized that Crotch was correct in
>pulling the American species out of Suphis, but did not recognize
>Suphisellus as a valid name (he concluded it was informal), instead
>including the three species above into the new genus _Canthydrus_ Sharp.
>Zimmermann in 1921 came along and moved the American species of Canthydrus
>into the genus Suphisellus, and described four new species in addition, the
>first being _S. variicollis_ Zimm. - no mention was made of Crotch's work.
>Guignot in 1946 came across this and designated variicollis as the genotype
>of the genus _Suphisellus_ Zimm.
>The final published word came from Leech in 1948, who missed Guignot's
>paper and instead recognized that Crotch's original proposal of the name
>was valid, and therefore designated _Noterus bicolor_ Say as the genotype
>of the genus _Suphisellus_ Crotch.
>My colleague has concluded that Leech was essentially correct, and the name
>Suphisellus should be credited to Crotch, although he feels that Guignot's
>designation of variicollis Zimm. as the genotype takes precedence over
>Leech's assignment.
>Myself, I'd have to pull out the book to make sure such an informal
>designation as Crotch's would be valid - after all, he never *formally*
>placed any species in _Suphisellus_ - though the name was put in print
>there first. At any rate, assuming that the genus name *is* credited to
>Crotch, then, *I* would have assumed that since variicollis was not one of
>the three species Crotch originally included in the hypothetical genus, it
>could not be designated the genotype, and I would consider Leech's
>designation of bicolor to stand. If, however, the name is credited to
>Zimmermann, then Guignot's designation of variicollis would. What do folks
>think about this??
>One additional *either* case, do we presume correctly that the
>species Crotch described would be listed as Suphisellus puncticollis
>(Crotch), given that he described it in the genus Suphis?

Andrey Sharkov responded on 11/28/95 that _Suphisellus_ Crotch 1873 should
be treated as available and the valid name and that _Suphisellus_ Zimmerman
1921 would be a junior homonym.  He also considered _Suphisellus_ Crotch to
have been "first published as a junion synonym."

The following is a differing interpretation that recognizes _Canthydrus_ as
the valid name.  The problem seems to revolve around interpretation of the
criteria of availability, especially Art. 12, for names published before
1931.  _Suphisellus_ Crotch, 1873, meets the criteria of Arts. 10 and 11.
A work published before 1931 can contain a uninominal genus-group name,
i.e., Art. 11c (i) and it can be a conditional name, i.e., Art. 11c (i).
At first glance, it would also appear to meet Art. 12 in that the name must
be accompanied by a "description or a definition of the taxon that it
denotes, or by an indication."  The restriction of _Suphisellus_ to
"American species" by Crotch might be (or might have been by Leech)
interpreted to meet the requirement of a "definition."  The types of
"indication" do not seem to apply because no species-group name was used in
combination with it (or listed under it).  However, the Exclusions to Art.
12 state "the mention of ...a vernacular name, locality, geological
horizon, host, lable, or specimen" do not constitute a description,
definition, or indication.  This appears to negate the reference to
"American species" as meeting criteria of availability for names published
before 1931, and thus _Suphisellus_ Crotch would be a nomen nudum.  If it
were not a nomen nudum, it would not have been published as a junior
synonym because Crotch clearly distinguished _Suphisellus_ as including the
"American species."

If Suphisellus Crotch is a nomen nudum, this same name can be made
available at a later date for the same group, taking the authorship and
date from the "act of establishment, not from any earlier publication as a
nomen nudum" (IZCN, 3rd ed., pg. 260).  Thus, Zimmerman should be
considered the author of _Suphisellus_ without a type species designation
(which was valid for names before 1930).  Guignot's subsequent designation
of _variicollis_ Zimm. would be valid.  It would not be a valid designation
for _Suphisellus_ Crotch, if the latter was available, because it was not
originally included by Crotch.  _Suphisellus_ Zimmerman would be a junior
synonym of _Canthydrus_ Sharp (1880) (unless _variicollis_ is not
congeneric with the three American species that Sharp included in
_Canthydrus_).  No mention of a type species designation was given in the
original posting of this problem, but if one has not been designated it
will have to be one of the three species originally included by Sharp.

The recognition of Suphisellus Crotch, a nomen nudum, by Leech (1948) would
be invalid.  However, Suphisellus Leech would be valid if it met criteria
of availability for names published after 1930 (Leech would have had to
give a description or definition of the genus that differentiated it from
other genera).  If _Suphisellus_ Leech is available, his name would be a
junior homonym of _Suphisellus_ Zimmerman.

Canthydrus Sharp, 1880
        (type species:  either _Noterus bicolor_ Say, _Suphis lineatus_
                Horn, or _Suphis puncticollis_ Crotch)
Suphisellus Zimmerman, 1921
        Type species:  Suphisellus variicollis Zimmerman, by subsequent
        designation (Guignot, 1946).
Suphisellus Leech, 1948
        Type species: Suphisellus bicolor_ by original designation.
        Junior homonym of Suphisellus Zimmerman, 1921 (depending on
        availability of Leech's name; otherwise a nomen nudum and not
        included in synonymy of Canthydrus_).

Note on recombinations:
If the name _Suphisellus_ Crotch was available, species that he included in
Suphis would be in a new combination with Suphisellus, e.g., Suphisellus
puncticollis (Crotch), not because _Suphisellus_ was published in synonymy,
but because of Art. 51 c(ii).

Note on use of genotype:  This term is not recognized by the Code in
zoological nomenclature (after the geneticists misappropriated it), and
"type species" is now used instead.

Richard L. Brown
Mississippi Entomological Museum
Box 9775
Mississippi State, MS 39762-9775
ph: 601-325-2085
FAX: 601-325-8837
email: moth at

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