designating a photo as holotype?

Doug Yanega dyanega at MONO.ICB.UFMG.BR
Fri Nov 7 16:17:57 CST 1997

I know that for a number of old descriptions, often an illustration has had
to stand in for a holotype, and in cases such as the infamous "Nessiteras
rhombopteryx", all that has *ever* existed is a photograph. I now find
myself with a similar problem - I had a single specimen that represented an
undescribed genus and species (from Mindanao in the mid-50's, so I'm not
banking on more turning up), and I'd planned on working up a description
when I had time here in Brazil. I'd left the specimen behind, and asked for
it to be mailed to me here. Turns out that in the process of packing it to
send, the head (with several of the diagnostic features for the genus) was
knocked off and lost by the person shipping it to me. I'd taken a color
habitus slide of the specimen, however, before this unfortunate accident,
in which the head is nicely visible.
        The primary question is this: I'll probably designate the headless
specimen as the holotype, but do I have the option of using the image of
the intact insect? If so, is this considered desirable or not, and what
would then be done with the damaged specimen? It might not be so ambiguous
in this case, where most of the specimen is still okay (albeit without some
important diagnostic structures), but where, exactly, does one draw the
line in such cases in general? - i.e., what if the wings were also lost?
The legs, too? Or if dermestids had gotten to it and all I had left was,
say, a wing? Is a *fragment* better than a photo, if one can choose? Just
curious as to what folks think about this sort of situation. [As an
afterthought, if a photo is designated the type, what about copies of that
photo? Are they equally valid?]


Doug Yanega    Depto. de Biologia Geral, Instituto de Ciencias Biologicas,
Univ. Fed. de Minas Gerais, Cx.P. 486, 30.161-970 Belo Horizonte, MG   BRAZIL
phone: 031-449-2579, fax: 031-441-5481  (from U.S., prefix 011-55)
  "There are some enterprises in which a careful disorderliness
        is the true method" - Herman Melville, Moby Dick, Chap. 82

More information about the Taxacom mailing list