Fwd: Basionym in Zoology?

Barbara Ertter ertter at UCLINK4.BERKELEY.EDU
Mon Jun 17 08:45:16 CDT 2002

>I'm looking for a simple term to represent something along the lines of:
>"A Taxon Concept as it was represented in the original IC_N-compliant
>description of its corresponding taxon name."

Well, it looks like no one has responded with "circumscription" yet,
combined with adjective of choice (initial, original, alpha,
founding, basio- . . .)

The way I now explain the function of types when I give tours of the
herbarium to various groups, btw, is to designate one person as the
"type" of Homo sapiens.  From this point it is readily apparent that
it is impossible for a single individual to quintessentially
represent the species (well, unless it were thee or me!), but that in
fact the species is defined by the sum of all representatives within
the circumscription (= taxonomic hypothesis).  The purpose of the
type is to connect the name (basionym) to a circumscription as
unambiguously as possible.  Where this kicks in, in the example in
play, is if men and women really do turn out to be two species, then
the name goes with whatever gender the "type" happens to be (which
then leads to the fun of choosing a new name for the other gender!)
Silly, but I think that members of the public who get this
explanation have a better understanding of what types are, and
aren't, than do many of our scientific colleagues.

Barbara Ertter
University and Jepson Herbaria
University of California at Berkeley

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