Selling species

Wolfgang J. Neun w.neun at ONLINE.DE
Mon Jan 24 20:22:45 CST 2000

Dear all,

Ken Kinman wrote:
>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.

A descriptive nomenclature might be feasible with mammals but I doubt
that it can be adopted e.g. with insects. Just take a look in Johnson's
Catalog of World Proctotrupoidea [Hymenoptera] (a group I am a little
familiar with): flavipes is listed 63 times as a specific epithet.
Similar with flavicornis, niger, nigriceps, nigriclavatus, nigricornis,
nigriventris, and so many more, containing a wealth of homonyms.
Did not the old Code of 1985 itself (sorry, I have not received a copy
of the new one yet) suggest to use non-trivial names to avoid homonyms?
And I'd judge billgatesi to be very non-trivial (at least there is not a
single billgatesi listed in the catalogue mentioned above).

And Sven O Kullander wrote:
>So, littering tropical biota with the names of at least medium-rich
>Germans is development!  Flagrant hegemony (among other things!) is
>an alternative label.

I prefer a species name dedicated to an at least medium-rich German for
money to one given for political opportunism or fanatism and for free.
But even then ... who knows of that Anophthalmus hitleri, who will ever
see it - dead or alive? Just a handful of specialist taxonomists.
I guess the same is true for the few tropical species named for monetary
reasons. Although the majority of species might still be unknown, most
of the abundant ones have been described. So you may see X. borisbeckeri
or Y. billgatesi in a list or a catalogue twice a century but I doubt
that you or me may see them in real life like the house fly or the
German cockroach.

(I am not in any way affiliated with Biopat or any of the institutions

Wolfgang Neun, Diplom-Biologe

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