Incorrect original spelling?

Andrey Sharkov Sharkov.1 at OSU.EDU
Wed May 7 13:03:22 CDT 1997

On Wed, 07 May 1997 Wolfgang Wuster wrote:

>Here is a little chestnut that several colleagues and I have been
>discussing for some time now, and I was wondering whether fellow
>TAXACOMers might be able to shed some light on the problem:
>In 1797, Shaw and Nodder described the snake species Coluber russelii.
>>From the context, it was clear that the snake was being named after the
>well-known British medic and biologist Patrick Russell. Note the
>discrepancy in spelling: Patrick Russell consistently spelled his name
>with -ll, whereas Shaw and Nodder repeatedly spelled it with -l, and used
>the spelling "russelii" for the scientific name.
>Gray (1842) emended the spelling of the specific name to russellii,
>presumably on the basis of the correct spelling of Patrick Russell's
>Question: was this a justified emendation of an incorrect original
>spelling (ICZN, articles 32c(ii), 32d, 33b(ii)), or an unjustified
>Points to bear in mind: Shaw & Nodder mentioned Russell several times in
>their work, and each time spelled his name with a single L - this was
>clearly deliberate, albeit incorrect.
>Art 32c(ii) states that an original spelling is incorrect is "there is in
>the original publication itself, without recourse to any external source
>of information, clear evidence of an inadvertent error, such as a lapsus
>calami or a copyist's or printer's error".
>Internally, there is thus clear evidence that the single L was used
>deliberately. At the same time, there is also internal evidence that the
>species was named after Patrick Russell, who spelled his name with -ll.
>Which spelling of the scientific name is correct, russelii or russellii?
>Any comments on this problem would be gratefully received.
>Wolfgang Wuster
>School of Biological Sciences, University of Wales, Bangor, UK
>e-mail: w.wuster at   WWW:
____________________________________End original message

I think that although there is an "internal" evidence that the species was
named after Patric Russell, there is NO internal evidence of the correct
spelling of his name. To find out the correct spelling one has to recourse
to an external source of information. Therefore, according to the code (as I
understand it), the correct original spelling is "russelii", and "russellii"
is an unjustified emendation.
Andrey Sharkov
Associate Curator                     Phone: (614) 292-2730
Department of Entomology        FAX: (614) 292-7774
Museum of Biodiversity             INTERNET:  Sharkov.1 at
The Ohio State University
1315 Kinnear Rd.
Columbus, OH 43212

More information about the Taxacom mailing list