Molecular vs. Morphological Types

Don McAllister mcall at SUPERAJE.COM
Sat Nov 9 14:01:15 CST 1996

Whether new taxa are established by morphological, ecological,
behavioral or molecular features does not matter.  The value of a type
specimen is to have a fixed reference point to determine a possible
future question about what that taxon is.

For example, genetic evidence A on 9 November 1996 shows that there is
old species X and new species Y, and so the new species Y is given a new
scientific name and a specimen is assigned as a holotype.  On January
1st, 2001, a new genetic method reveals that what was thought of as
species Y, is actually composed two species. The availability of
a holotype enabled one to determine which of the species should be
called Y and which should be given the new name Z.

So type specimens solve problems that have nothing to do with the nature
of the characters that were used to distinguish the specimen.  All
characters are grist for the taxonomic mill.  And we will continue to
uncover new and useful characters of distinguish and classify species
for years to come.


Don E. McAllister             /& Canadian Centre for Biodiversity
Ocean Voice International          /Canadian Museum of Nature
Box 37026, 3332 McCarthy Rd. /Box 3443, Station D
Ottawa, ON K1V 0W0, Canada    /Ottawa, ON K1P 6P4
URL:  E-mail: mcall at
 (or: ah194 at Tel: (613) 264-8986, Fax: (613)

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