Selling species (from today's Science)

Doug Yanega dyanega at POP.UCR.EDU
Mon Jan 24 11:34:39 CST 2000

Ken Kinman wrote the first truly important message in the thread when he said:

>Or what if it is later found to be a synonym of
>another name (which will become increasingly likely, since a wave of
>revenue-producing taxonomic splitting might occur in some taxa).

BINGO! Every other issue surrounding this *pales* before the problem of
"revenue-producing taxonomic splitting". Someone else will have to pick up
the pieces, and deal with the mess, while the people who coined the names
won't be held accountable for fraud. What we need, really, is ONE prominent
test case where just such a lawsuit is filed and won. Include the payment
for the expert witness for the prosecution in the suit, and we may yet come
out ahead - because then we can make money *sinking* every bogus name they
create. ;-)

>     But I suspect Linnaeus would frown on naming species after people, even
>for prominent biologists (which I believe began in the latter 19th Century),
>rather than the descriptive names he used.  I am sure he would certainly
>applaud the bacteriologists and virologists for encouraging a more
>traditional descriptive nomenclature.

Then again, many of the most prurient names in existence are some of
Linnaeus' own (I oughta know, I list several on my web page). I doubt
anyone nowadays would go around giving things names like _Labia minor_ (I
dare you to explain how that name is descriptive for an earwig) and
_Penicillus penis_ without some *major* resistance from reviewers. Linnaeus
is NOT the best example as to what is or is not an appropriate epithet. ;-)


Doug Yanega        Dept. of Entomology         Entomology Research Museum
Univ. of California - Riverside, Riverside, CA 92521
phone: (909) 787-4315 (standard disclaimer: opinions are mine, not UCR's)
  "There are some enterprises in which a careful disorderliness
        is the true method" - Herman Melville, Moby Dick, Chap. 82

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