was "arcane" rules now types
Wed Aug 21 02:17:17 CDT 2002
----- Original Message -----
From: "Richard Pyle" <deepreef at BISHOPMUSEUM.ORG>
Subject: Re: "arcane" rules/was gender of -opsis
> I can stare at a Type specimen all day long, examine its DNA, create a CT
> scan of its morphology, and run the data through the most sophisticated
> algorithm on the world's fastest computer....and I will NEVER be able to
> deduce from that specimen the name for which it serves as Type.
This is true only if you do not know in advance that it is a type specimen.
For if it is a known type specimens the overwhelming odds are that one will
also know what it is the type of. But you point is absolutely true.
> I believe Neal's point is that the "Name" (i.e., nomenclature) can *only*
> defined in terms of its original description as it appears in the
> literature. This is because a name is a human construct, not a
And this is the central disagreement. It is true that a nomenclature only
has defination from the OD. But we have to understand what the OD is. It
is not just a piece of literature that is an end in itself - it is a
_description_. It points to some _thing_. Reflects some _thing_. It is a
understanding bridge to some _thing_. A "living" _thing_ --- not an idea
(1.3.1). Not a hypothetical, but an actual organic _thing_. It is
impossible for an OD to be divorced from an actual organism - specimen.
The organism gives rise to and validity to the OD for the OD is but the
first "Hey, everyone come look at this." It points to, via reflection. An
OD is a mirror. That which directs to, and not an end in and of itself.
That which is _in_ the mirror is the that which it names. This is why I
mentioned the articles of the ZN code in my other post on this. 74.4.
These ODs are the pictorial or verbal reflection of actual specimens.
Which is why these OD illustrations or descriptions can become lectotypes.
The OD "name" is absolutely a biological entity otherwise it could never
become a "type". Which brings up another very common misnomer.
Scientific "names" are not names at all (like lion, Bob or tree). They are
technical scientific terms defining a specific evolutionary product
(taxon). Just as Au or H2O are scientific definitions not names - gold and
water are the names. Sure we use names of gods, people, places and things
in the composition - we have to use something. But the epithets arranged
to family, genus, species, subspecies are defining relational terms of the
same stature as Au and H2O. An OD does not "name" something - it 1)
mirrors an actual organism to our attention and 2) places that organism
into an evolutionary technical relational frame. We call this a "name" but
the ZN code calls it a "scientific name" - big difference. This is why I
say nomenclature is but the language of taxonomy - each is nothing without
> If all literature pertaining to names without the context of type
> specimens is meaningless, then we have a lot of "meaningless" names out
> there in current use. However, whereas you cannot deduce a name from a
> specimen, you can often deduce, with reasonable confidence, a species
> definition from its original description.
One can often (actually quite often) not deduce a species from the earliest
descriptions alone. Things are not illustrated, described by one line, and
place of origin given as India or China when it was actually from the new
world. Again we get into a false either-or discussion. ODs and specimens
are not in competition - they give harmony to each other. We all agree on
that - clearly. Then let's look at the logical result of our agreement.
Species (by type specimen) need ODs and ODs need species (types).
Now the first part of the above. There is no literature outside the
context of type specimens (61.1), so none of it's scientific names are
"meaningless" (though some unavailable.) Let me quote this again.
61.1 "Each nominal taxon in the family, genus or species groups _has_
actually or potentially a name-bearing type...." The Code says _has_ in
the now. Each - has - a. Those three little words are pretty clear to me.
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