Paratypes, lectotypes, etc. - An Answer to TAXACOM Digest

Tue Jan 2 20:42:00 CST 1996

An answer for Joe Laferriere --

An illustration can be excluded as a lectotype if the illustration was not
seen by the original author. If not seen, it can not be original material and
therefore not eligible to be so designated. However, if an author mistakenly
terms such an element the "lectotype", then Art. 9.8 treats that as a
correctable error and the illustration would be regarded as a neotype.
HOWEVER, this is true ONLY if there is no other original element. By
definition (Art. 9.6), a neotype can be established only if "all of the
material on which the name of the taxon was based is missing."


The ICBN is a bit wierd here. Art. 9.1 states a holotype is "the one
specimen or illustration used by the author ... " whereas an isotype "is
always a specimen." This makes sense.

However, Art. 9.4 states that a "syntype is any one of two or more specimens
cited in the protologue when no holotype was designated ..." It is this that
is used to state that under no circumstance can an illustration be selected as
a lectotype because only a specimen can be a syntype. Also, a paratype is
defined as "a specimen".

The term protologue includes "...description or diagnosis, illustrations, ..."
(see Art. 9.4 footnote) and original material "those specimens and
illustrations ... (see Art. 9.7 footnote) in their definitions. The Code
acknowledges that illustrations can make significant contributions to an
author's understanding of a taxon in one part yet declare that such
illustrations do not qualify as syntypes in another. Yet, Art. 9.2 declares a
lectotype can be "a specimen or illustration".

Here is where one gets the notion that a specimen MUST be designated before
an illustration. If there is an isotype or a syntype (by definition only
specimens) Art. 9.9 declares that an isotype has first priority, syntypes have
second priority. Only if there are no isotypes or syntypes can a neotype be
selected and only here can an illustration can be selected.

So, why can a lectotype be an illustration? Can't answer that for this is
the internal conflict in the Code. Even if one were to design an
illustration as a holotype (Art. 9.1), by definition copies of that
illustration can not be isotypes nor syntypes! AND, how does one resolve the
conflict with Art. 8.1 which declares the "type of a name of a species or
infraspecific taxon is a single specimen or illustration..." other than
arguing that this refers only to special cases (e.g., holotypes and neotypes).

In working with Linnaean names, frankly, we have (or to safeguard the good
names of others), I have simply ignorned this using the broad context of
Art. 7.7 Ex. 5 as an excuse. The lectotype we designated for sugarcane many
years ago is the Sloane illustration seen and cited by Linnaeus. We did not
select the specimen (a stem of a Japanese bamboo -- unknown to us this
specimen was designated the type a short time before our paper so you will
see a note on this in Taxon later in the year) in the Linnaean Herbarium,
the only available syntype.

While Dr. Baum is correct in pointing out that Linnaean names do have
special provisions, I dare say many have designated an illustration as a
lectotype for a non Linnaean name. And before one attempts to use Art. 7.7
Ex. 5 in a broader sense, please note that the OXF specimen cited therein
was not original material (but see below) and therefore while Stearn
considered the Dodonaeus illustration a "lectotype" technically it was still
a neotype as no isotype or syntype (e.g., specimen) existed.

The Oxford and Chelsea Physic Garden mystery (the "see below" part).

Original material includes "specimens ... which it can be shown that the
description or diagnosis validating the name was based..."

Philip Miller complained bitterly to a friend that Linnaeus spent far more
time looking through the dried specimens (including Miller's own specimens
now at BM) at Chelsea Physic Garden that he did examining the living specimens.
Likewise, Species plantarum contains many of the same errors in page numbers
found on specimen annotations at OXF written by William Sherard who died in

Clearly, Linnaeus studied many more specimens in England than is assumed
(the assumption is he studied none!) and likely saw material elsewhere that
is still extant. What does it take to make something "original material"?
For self preservation, I have maintained that until I found an annotation by
the Prince of Botany himself, or a listing of specimens examined, none of
the stuff at OXF is original material -- it is a lie, but ....

Jim Reveal (MARY)

More information about the Taxacom mailing list