please help me locate a mess

Richard Pyle deepreef at BISHOPMUSEUM.ORG
Fri Nov 12 09:46:46 CST 2004

Hi Nico,

Here's a case in fishes that might meet your needs (family Sparidae):

Pagellus calamus Valenciennes in Cuvier & Valenciennes 1830 was described on
the basis of four syntypes (MNHN 5565, 5566, A-8101 & 8664). As of 1966,
apparently two of these (5566 & 8664) had been lost or destroyed, so only
two remained.

Calamus pennatula Guichenot 1868 was apparently based on the same series of
type specimens as P. calamus -- which means that one would at first assume
pennatula to be an objective (homotypic) synonym of calamus.


Randall & Caldwell (1966) examined the two existing syntypes of P. calamus
(MNHN 5565 & A-8101), and discovered that they represented two different
species. They selected one of them (A-8101) as the lectotype of P. calamus,
and selected the other (MNHN 5565) as the lectotype of of C. pennatula,
thereby preserving both names.

But there's more:

Swainson (1839:171) described the genus-group name Callamus (as a subgenus
of Chrysophrys Quoy & Gaimard 1824), the type species of which is Calamus
megacephalus Swainson 1839:222 (by monotypy).  However according to Jordan &
Gilbert (1884:18) and Randall & Caldwell (1966:36), Swainson used the
species epithet "megacephalus" only because it was customary at the time to
create new species epithets to avoid tautonyms, and his "megacephalus" is
treated as a junior synonym of Pagellus calamus Valenciennes in Cuvier &
Valenciennes 1830. is a case of one series of syntypes, with two different names
based on that same series of syntypes, and two different species represented
among that same series. One of those species is the defacto type species of
a genus (although I doubt that anyone would ever split the two species into
separate genera).

And as if that's not enough....

Randall & Caldwell also describe a similar situation for Pegallus penna
Valenciennes in Cuvier & Valenciennes 1830:209. Among its three existing
syntypes, two are what are now considered to be Calamus penna (one of which
Randall & Caldwell designated as the lectotype), and the third is identified
as C. pennatula.

Messy enough for you?


Richard L. Pyle, PhD
Ichthyology, Bishop Museum
1525 Bernice St., Honolulu, HI 96817
Ph: (808)848-4115, Fax: (808)847-8252
email: deepreef at


Cuvier, G. and A. Valenciennes. 1830.  Historie naturelle des poissons. Tome
Sixième. Livre sixième. Partie I. Des Sparoïdes; Partie II. Des Ménides.
Hist. Nat. Poiss. v. 6: i-xxiv + 6 pp. + 1-559, Pls. 141-169.

Guichenot, A. 1868. Révision du genre des Pagels (Pagellus, Lithognathus,
Calamus). Mem. Soc. Imp. Sci. Nat. Cherbourg v. 14 (= Ser. 2, v. 4): 97-123.

Jordan, D. S. and C. H. Gilbert. 1884. A review of the species of the genus
Calamus. Proc. U. S. Natl. Mus. v. 7 (no. 401): 14-24.

Randall, J. E. and D. K. Caldwell. 1966. A review of the sparid fish genus
Calamus, with descriptions of four new species. Nat. Hist. Mus. Los Ang.
Cty. Sci. Bull. No. 2: 1-47.

Swainson, W. 1839. The natural history and classification of fishes,
amphibians, & reptiles, or monocardian animals. Spottiswoode & Co., London.
Nat. Hist. & Class. v. 2: i-vi + 1-448.

> -----Original Message-----
> From: Taxacom Discussion List [mailto:TAXACOM at LISTSERV.NHM.KU.EDU]On
> Behalf Of Nico Mario Franz
> Sent: Friday, November 12, 2004 8:39 AM
> Subject: please help me locate a mess
> Dear Taxacomers:
>    I am looking for a (retrospectively) well-documented case where an
> original publication made reference (e.g. when describing a species) to
> a longer SERIES of type specimens (holo-/para-...). Then subsequently
> that series got "split up" by someone such that one part of the
> original series (holotype and perceived conspecifics) retained the same
> name, whereas other parts now carry different species- or even generic
> names. In botany I suppose this is quite common, with series of
> herbarium sheets circulating among various collections and specialists.
>    A "popular example" would be a bonus, but I am really interested in a
> published and transparent summary of the different
> nomenclatural/taxonomic fates of type specimen series that once were
> thought to belong together. The longer and more complex the lineage of
> name changes, the better (no, this example won't be used to promote the
> "gentle nomenclatural revolution").
> Many thanks,
> Nico Franz
> (nmf2 at

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