Paris Types??

Rod Seppelt rod_sep at ANTDIV.GOV.AU
Wed May 13 08:10:24 CDT 1998

Sylvia Hope wrote:

>          A useful custom might be for the describer of new
>          species  to deposit the types with the funding museum and
>          to designate a set of specimens as paratypes
>          for a museum in the country of origin.  Or vice versa.

I have no real difficulty with this.  BUT, from personal experience with a
lichen specimen, collected by me on subantarctic Macquarie Island and sent
on loan as part of a revisionary study to Helsinki, this may not be
In the case of the lichen, I had three Paratypes returned.  The Holotype
resides in the Herbarium in Helsinki.  Of the three Paratypes, annotated by
the person undertaking the revision, two match the chemistry of the
Holotype, one is another (but very similar morphologically) species.
In short - the principal is fine, but there may be some practical difficulties.
Still, who is to say that Isotypes are necessarily all the same either.
Or, indeed, a Lectotype is the same as the original (lost) Holotype!

The question of what to do with deep water marine specimens, put in by Ami
Scheltema.  These may well be collected in International waters.  The ocean
boundary claims differ between nations (3, 12, or 200 naughtical miles).
Then there is also the case of Antarctica - a continent reserved for peace
and science (and, may I add, ever increasing tourism pressure) for all
mankind.  While territorial claims are still recognised under the terms of
the Antarctic Treaty, they have no real meaning in the sense of the normal
interpretation of national boundaries.  Where, then, should these specimens
be housed.  I think, quite justifiably, with the funding

The point is - material should be housed in a recognised institution.  For
the purpose of study, this material should/must be made available to bona
fide researchers.  If the critical specimens happen to be lodged in your
back yard, so to speak, that is nice and convenient.  If it happens to be
lodged elsewhere, that is not so convenient but it is not an insurmountable
problem.  It is the same with tracking down old or obscure early literature
with Type descriptions.
In my experience, there is usually not a great deal of difficulty in
borrowing material.
As for literature, I have had more success by visiting major libraries
personally than by asking a librarian's assistant to try and interpret what
I want - sometimes it works, often it doesn't.

But, some material obviously is more valuable/delicate/critical/etc. than
others and institutions correctly reserve the right to pose conditions on
And that is enough from me.

Rod Seppelt

Dr. Rodney D. Seppelt
Principal Research Scientist
Australian Antarctic Division
Channel Highway
Kingston 7050, Tasmania, Australia

phone:  International:  +61 (03) 62 323 438
        FAX          :  +61 (03) 62 323 449

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