Valid publication of new fossil plants

Robert Mill R.Mill at RBGE.ORG.UK
Mon Apr 14 14:34:00 CDT 1997

Dear Taxacomers

I am currently having to deal with the taxonomy of some fossil
conifer taxa, the first time I have had to deal with fossil taxa
using the ICBN.

I have noticed that the general practice of several authors of new
fossil plant taxa or combinations (e.g. Hill & Carpenter 1991,
Greenwood 1987) is to cite basionyms with the pagination of the
entire paper, not the exact page as is required for all extant taxa
under Art. 33.2 & Note 1 of ICBN 1994. A random example of many seen
is Acmopyle setiger (Townrow) R. Hill & Carpenter, comb. nov. in
Austr. Syst. Bot. 4: 469 (1991), whose synonymy is given as
Podocarpus setiger Townrow, Pap. Roy. Soc. Tas. 99: 87-107 (1965),
Dacrycarpus setiger (Townrow) Greenwood, Aust. J. Bot. 35: 111-33
(1987). In this example I have not yet checked the basionym reference
but the pagination for the Dacrycarpus combination refers to the
entire paper.

Art. 33.2 Note 1 does have a "let-out" clause stating that  "For the
purpose of this Code, a page reference .... is a reference to the
page or pages on which the basionym was validly published or on
which the protologue is printed, but not to the pagination of the
whole publication _unless it is coextensive with the protologue_"
[emphasis mine].  Could it be that fossil plant taxonomists are
considering that the protologues of their taxa constitute the entire
paper in which they appear? And, if they are doing this, are they
correct in doing so under the ICBN? Otherwise, it would seem that a
large number of new combinations and other novelties have been
invalidly published including both combinations in the example cited
above. Both Hill & Carpenter's paper and Greenwood's contain many new
taxa and combinations, so the individual protologues in those papers
cannot be coextensive with the whole paper. The only thing I can
think of is that perhaps Art. 33 does not apply to fossil plant taxa,
only to recent - but nothing in the Article implies that that is the
case. It seems strange that the editors and reviewers of these papers
did not pick this apparent invalidity up - both papers are in highly
respectable journals (as are several others where I have seen the
same practice).

Anyone with experience in applying the ICBN to fossil plant names who
can clarify this matter for me, please reply direct unless you think
it worth starting a thread on the subject.

Refs.: Hill, R.S. & Carpenter, R.J., Aust. Syst. Bot. 4: 449-479
Greenwood, D.R., Aust. J. Bot. 35: 111-133 (1987).

Thank you

Robert Mill

      (Dr) ROBERT R MILL
      Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh
      20a Inverleith Row, EDINBURGH EH3 5LR, SCOTLAND, U.K.

      Electronic Mail:   R.Mill at OR robert at
      Telephone:         + 44 131 552 7171 exts. 240 or 449
      Facsimile:         + 44 131 552 0382


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