This should start a thread ...

Richard Jensen rjensen at SAINTMARYS.EDU
Wed Feb 17 07:57:13 CST 1999

A colleague of my, who is in the process of naming several newly
discovered parasitic helminths, just auctioned off the specific epithet
of one at a church auction.  While the goal is admirable (to raise funds
for charitable purposes), I am disturbed by the possibility that
individuals could do this for simple profit.  Is there anything in
either code (ICBN, ICZN) that prohibits such practice (or that
recommends against such practice).  Of course, it would be difficult to
monitor this.

There is something here that smacks of the unethical, but it's hard to
put my finger on it.  Many species have been named to honor inividuals,
including benefactors whose largesse provided support for the field work
involved. But in those cases there was no explicit guarantee of the
right to any name; i.e., it was always possible that no new species
would be discovered.  These auctions are different because the new
species is already documented and waiting to be named.  My own view is
that the systematics community should (strongly) discourage such

Richard J. Jensen              TEL: 219-284-4674
Department of Biology      FAX: 219-284-4716
Saint Mary's College         E-mail: rjensen at
Notre Dame, IN  46556

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