synonymy question

Janice at Janice at
Wed Jan 30 11:21:49 CST 2002

Dear group,
I hope someone will have the time and desire to take pity on me and assist
with a problem. Please answer directly to me so as not to clutter up the
list with information the members know only too well already. I am
attempting to write an expanded description for a wild dog, popularly called
Hallstrom's dog or the New Guinea singing dog, originally described by E.
Troughton from two live specimens in 1957 and named Canis hallstromi.  I am
expanding the description with skull data, behavioral information, DNA, etc.

This is my first attempt at such a paper
(I am a behavior person doing conscripted duty <G>).  I have the book
Describing Species by J. Winston to use as a guide, but I am stumped by the
synonymy section.  Since 1957 this canid has been called several
different names in the literature.  Most of these names were offered as
"casual" opinions without justification or additional description, in a
paper whose main focus was not on describing this taxon but another topic.
Do I need to cite these references as synonymies, and do
I cite just the first one I can find for each specific name or list each

There was one paper specifically comparing this canid's morphology with
Australian dingoes, which included photos of live specimens, photos of
skulls, and skull and limb
measurements for both taxons.  The title of the paper was "On Hallstrom's
Dog (Canis hallstromi, Throughton 1957)"  (W. Schultz. 1969. Zoologischer
Anzeiger 183(1/2):47-72). The author concludes that Hallstrom's dog is a
"feral domestic dog" without actually using or assigning the name C.
familiaris. (His last sentence in part is "... indicate with certainty that
Hallstrom's Dogs are feral domestic dogs, closely related to the Dingo.")
Since he used C. hallstromi in the title, how
do I index that in the synonymy? Do I assume he meant C. familiaris for
domestic dog and list this as an instance of that name?

Another question: One of the first descriptions of the two skulls of New
Guinea dogs (specimens did not have secure provenance as
Highlands wild dogs, the type of Hallstrom's dog) was in 1928, and that
author merely concluded they were a "subspecies of
Canis familiaris" and "a very definite race."  No subspecific name was
assigned. As I am not sure those specimens actually represent what we know
today as the Highland wild dog, which is diagnostically different than the
aboriginal domestic dogs, should I list this as a "first description" and
thus giving the name C. familiaris precedence over C. hallstromi or mention
it in another way under the taxonomic discussion?

Lastly, in a paper that appeared in Science in New Guinea, one of my
colleagues and co-authors offered a history of the captive population and
some behavioral and molecular data collected on that population and
concluded in the taxonomic discussion: "Thus, in absence of additional data,
we would recommend the current taxonomic designation Canis lupus dingo
...with the caveat that further studies may...justify its separation from
the Australian dingo through the designation Canis lupus hallstromi."   That
was the first use of C. lupus hallstromi so I assume I would list that but
what the heck do I do with their "caveat" (which has now been confirmed)?

My colleagues and I are discussing whether or not we want to reaffirm them
as C. hallstromi or go conservative and assign them subspecific status as C.
familiaris hallstromi (most likely majority choice).   But either way the
paper requires a synonymy section. I would be most grateful for any advice
or direction to references that might help me sort this out.

Thank you for your attention.

Janice Koler-Matznick
New Guinea Singing Dog Conservation Society
5265 Old Stage Road
Central Point, OR 97502  USA

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