critter names

Lynn Raw lynn.raw at VIRGIN.NET
Thu Oct 11 22:49:16 CDT 2001

It is all very well having unique numbers for each described species and
subspecies name but who is going to assign these numbers and actually ensure
that they are unique. This apparently minor problem seems far more difficult
to solve than the difficulties that the system is supposed to resolve
(which, it seems obvious, can be sorted out with some imaginative computer

Taxonomists are not known for their co-ordinated efforts, each one works
more or less independently and the results of their descriptive work are
published at more or less random times. To register each new name with a
unique number before publication will be an amazing feat of organisation and
we haven't even begun to consider the backlog of names that have accumulated
since 1758.

To be realistic, have you any idea of the cost of implementing such a
system. There would need to be funds to cover the costs of some form of
office, staff, computer equipment, stationery, and other running expenses. I
can't see this coming from donations or grants so the obvious way of funding
this would be to charge a fee for registering each new name and number.

Based on what it costs to process a similar type of administrative
application in the UK today, I would estimate that a fee of some US$ 40
would be required just to cover these costs for each new name. I am not sure
how well this added burden would go down in the general taxonomic community
considering that the present system seems to meet most people's

Lynn Raw
Greenford, UK

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