protologues & higher taxa

Thomas Lammers lammers at VAXA.CIS.UWOSH.EDU
Tue Jun 18 10:49:01 CDT 2002

Think of "protologue"  as nomenclatural "enabling legislation;"  it is the
published document that brings a name into existence, that permits it to be
used rationally.  It includes but is not limited to the original
description/diagnosis, type designation, name, classification,
illustration, etc.   Bear in mind the etymology: "first discourse" -- that
is exactly what it is: the first discourse on this name.

As such, rank is irrelevant.  ANY name will have a protologue, a first
discourse by which (in the eyes of the relevant Code) that name first came
into existence.

At 03:42 PM 6/18/02 +0000, you wrote:
>Dear All,
>     I think protolog(ue), however one wants to spell it, would be useful in
>zoology.  I'm not sure I understand why Christian thinks we "should" drop
>the terminal "ue".  If American botanists use the spelling protologue (or do
>they still?), why shouldn't American zoologists do likewise?  It would also
>differentiate it from the internet term "protolog".  But I guess the exact
>spelling is a minor detail.
>     But more importantly, I am just wondering how high in the Linnean
>hierarchy the term protologue would (or should) be used.  Its greatest
>utility would be at species and generic levels, and perhaps also at family
>level.  Should it be used for higher level taxa as well (phylocoders are
>apparently going to use it for all taxa in their rankless system)?
>     For example, would Linnaeus' 1758 classification of "Insecta" (roughly
>equivalent to today's Arthropoda) be the protologue of taxon Insecta?
>          ------ Ken
>P.S.  Do botanists refer to protologues for taxa above the ordinal level (or
>even much for ordinal and familial taxa)?
>>From: Richard Pyle <deepreef at BISHOPMUSEUM.ORG>
>>Reply-To: Richard Pyle <deepreef at BISHOPMUSEUM.ORG>
>>Subject: Re: Basionym in Zoology?
>>Date: Mon, 17 Jun 2002 14:26:04 -1000
>>Many, MANY thanks to all who took the time to respond, both on and off the
>>list!  This has been a very useful exercise for me.  In my original post, I
>>probably put too much emphasis on the "circumscription" (taxon concept)
>>of the word I was looking for.  As explained in my follow-up post, the main
>>reasons that I want to identify those Assertions representing original
>>descriptions have to do almost entirely with nomenclatural bits of data,
>>rather than circumscription bits -- which is why I was leaning toward
>>"Basionym" as a familiar term that more or less captures the notion of an
>>"original description".
>>However, based on the feedback I received, I'm now leaning heavily toward
>>using 'Protologue', instead of 'Basionym'.  It seems to carry the same
>>implication of "original description", without the baggage of implying
>>nomenclature exclusively.  Would any Zoologists object to thinking of the
>>original descriptions of their taxa  as 'protologues'? How about microbial
>>Thanks again for the prompt & helpful feedback!
>>Richard L. Pyle
>>Ichthyology, Bishop Museum
>>1525 Bernice St., Honolulu, HI 96817
>>Ph: (808)848-4115, Fax: (808)847-8252
>>email: deepreef at
>>"The opinions expressed are those of the sender, and not necessarily those
>>of Bishop Museum."
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Thomas G. Lammers, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor and Curator of the Herbarium (OSH)
Department of Biology and Microbiology
University of Wisconsin Oshkosh
Oshkosh, Wisconsin 54901-8640 USA

e-mail:       lammers at
phone:      920-424-1002
fax:           920-424-1101

Plant systematics; classification, nomenclature, evolution, and biogeography
of the Campanulaceae s. lat.

"Today's mighty oak is yesterday's nut that stood his ground."
                                                               -- Anonymous

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