More on vernacular names

Ron at Ron at
Sun Mar 6 22:33:33 CST 2005

----- Original Message -----
From: Paul van Rijckevorsel
Subject: Re: More on vernacular names

Still, the instability of scientific names is not primarily caused by types,
but rather by shifting taxon circumscriptions (not to mentions ideas about

It is 100% nothing to do with types.   A type never changes - the concepts
and applications do.  Evolutionally, everything is or was a subspecies of
something (known or unknown to us).   From the eonic perspective, I consider
everything to exist at (what we call) the trinomial level  -  THAT taxon and
its type are totally stable.   The concepts and movement of what species it
is part of, and what genus it belongs in, are where the instability lies.
Even at the rank of genus - that type and taxon association never change.
Raised or lowered to genus, subgenus or synonymy - but the type and name
_based on that type_ can never change (except by neotypification to suit
some other concept or ruling by Commission).     When we have a type and
name and later find _our_ concept was off we have a taxonomic ooops - but no
change in _true_ type / name association.   A type is the "objective
standard" (ICZN) by which ALL nomenclature is referenced to the organism
that bears _that_ name.

Names do not possess types.  Types possess names.   Names are fixed to
types.  Without types, there can be no, and are no, taxonomic taxa (what we
have named).  The ONLY way a name can change is if the type is changed.  The
concept can not only change, but many mutually exclusive concepts exist at
once.  So the problem is with taxonomists and their concepts not types and
scientific names.

A Monarch butterfly in the US is Danaus plexippus.  In much of Canada the
Monarch is Papilio rutulus.  In the US the Nymphalis antiopa is Morning
Cloak.  In England it is the Camberwell Beauty.   While these vernacular
names are "stable" in their regions, who needs that "kind" of stability? --
perpetually different definitions equal constant (communicative) confusion,
does it not.

Ron Gatrelle

PS  The name Nymphalis antiopa has now been changed to (I think) Polygonia
antiopa.  But I see no instability there as the taxonomic taxon _antipoa_
remains the same as it type remains the same.  Isn't _antipoa_ the taxonomic
taxon name of the zoological taxon?  Yes.  Nymphalis and Polygonia both have
types  - but those types are not specimens they are species.  Making the
genus a concept of the parameters of that type species and its sisters.

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