Homonym avoidance

John McNeill johnm at ROM.ON.CA
Wed Jun 25 09:00:03 CDT 1997


Laurie Adams (l.adams at pi.csiro.au)  wrote:

>Hi Taxacomers,
>
>I'm not aware of any such thing, but a colleague has a vague
>recollection, from years back, that there exists or has existed, some
>semi-formal mechanism/grapevine or whatever, by which one can check
>that a proposed new generic name has not been used before, and
>thereby avoid the embarrassment of creating a later homonym. (He has
>of course already gone through the usual routine of consulting Kew
>Record, Index Kewensis, Brummitt's, Mabberley's and older generic
>dictionaries, etc.).
>
>Anyone know of such a facility?

The "usual routine", to which Laurie Adams refers, primarily mentions
works dealing with flowering plants and omits the one standard work,
covering all groups of plants, that I would consider essential for
avoiding homonymy of plant generic names.  I refer, of course, to
Index Nominum Genericorum, in 3 original volumes with 2 hardcopy
supplements, BUT ING is also on-line, which may be the "facility"
which Laurie's colleague remembers.  I don't have the URL at hand, but
it is at the Museum of Natural History of the Smithsonian Institution.

Avoiding homonymy across biology, something the BioCode proposes for
all future names, is another matter.  Neaves (?date) lists most then
published generic names in zoology, I understand.  Moreover, for its
bibliographic work (e.g. Zoologicl Record) BIOSIS maintains an
electronic list of generic names that it finds currently used in
systematic literature.  This is not, I understand, in the public
domain, but individual entries may be checkable.  BIOSIS (York, UK)
that produce the Zoological Record could advise.  All validly
published generic (and specific) names of bacteria are available on
line at the Deutsche Sammlung von Mikroorganismen und Zellkulturen
(DSMZ), Braunschweig, Germany (again I don't have the exact URL, but
the institute is  gbf.braunschweig.de)

John McNeill

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