Errors = phantom names on the Internet [ Scanned for viruses ]

Michael Schmitt m.schmitt at UNI-BONN.DE
Wed Mar 29 10:49:51 CST 2006

Dear colleagues,

I feel that the most convincing argument in favour of keeping such
phantom names in a database (or putting them on ZooBank, for that
matter) is the one given by Susan B. Farmer yesterday:

... by deleting the record, you also delete the *source* of the name.
Years from now, when someone is doing a revision and trying to track
down the publication/types of these names when that name still exists
somewhere, they will engage in a time consuming, fruitless search for
that publication. I think it's better to keep the annotated name.

If a name does not appear in a database, there is always the
possibility that it has been overlooked. instead of not been
published properly.

Side story: The name Anophthalmus hitleri Scheibl, 1937 does not
appear in Zoological Record, although other names, published by the
same author in the same year in the same journal from the same
subfamily (Coleoptera: Carabidae: Trechinae) but in another paper,
are listed. Was it omitted on purpose or overlooked, perhaps due to a
Freudian slip?

Thus, more important than the question whether or not unavailable
names should be considered by already existing or planned databases
seems to me the point raised later on this thread, that the
information on the status of a name as "unavailable" or "not
published" must be made conspicuous and not be given at the bottom of
a text you have to scroll down over several screen pages.

                                          Best regards
                                         Michael Schmitt

>-----Original Message-----
>From: Taxacom Discussion List [mailto:TAXACOM at LISTSERV.NHM.KU.EDU]On
>Behalf Of Chris Lyal
>Sent: 29 March 2006 09:06
>Subject: Re: [TAXACOM] Errors = phantom names on the Internet [ Scanned
>for viruses ]
>I'm with Rich.  Whether we as taxonomists 'meant' the name to be out
>there or not is now irrelevant.  It is known outside of Chris's
>database and those that have used it; it has an independant
>life.  Whilst Chris (or any one of us) could edit Wikipedia and
>state that the beast has no real existence, the name is still being
>used in some sense.  Therefore, just as we deal with other
>unavailable names by identifying them as such in catalogues, so we
>should with this.  The ITIS record should be emended to identify the
>name as unavailable (not published) and,when we get ZooBank up and
>running, registered there also as unavailable.  We do not need to
>have 'loose ends' flying about in the net - cutting off the end that
>is tied down is one solution, but a better one is tying down the end
>that is loose.
>This does bring up the issue of web publication again.  Despite
>Chris's best efforts and clearly stated intentions, and despite the
>injunctions of the current Code, de facto web publication has taken
>place.  Once we place taxonomic/nomenclatural information on the
>web, whatever we say or beleive, someone somewhere will take it as a
>'real' publication.  Given that we are not going to stop placing
>taxonomic information on the web - quite the reverse! - we have to
>develop a method of dealing with the situation very
>rapidly.  ZooBank should provide a means to demonstrate whether
>there is Code compliance of animal names, but there is to my
>knowedge no equivalent being considered for botany.  Even with
>ZooBank, we face a potential disjunction between what the ICZN and
>taxonomists say can be used and what web users *will* use.  To deal
>with this we need to have modifications of the Codes, and be sure
>that the global list of names and concepts is very easily
>accessible.  This list must also be easily annotated, so that
>comments in a case such as this can be made public a.s.a.p., and not lost.
>Christopher H. C. Lyal,
>Beetle Diversity and Evolution Programme,
>Department of Entomology,
>The Natural History Museum,
>Cromwell Road,
>London SW7 5BD
>tel: +44 (0) 207 942 5113
>fax: +44 (0) 207 942 5661
>e-mail c.lyal at
>personal page -
>electronic Biologia Centrali-Americana -
>World Catalogue of Weevil Names -

* Prof.Dr. Michael Schmitt (Zoologischer Anzeiger, Editor-in-   *
* Chief; Bonner zoologische Beitraege, Editor-in-Chief)         *
* Zoologisches Forschungsmuseum Alexander Koenig                *
* Adenauerallee 160, D-53113 Bonn, Germany                      *
* Phone/Fax: +49 228-9122 286, e-mail: m.schmitt at    *
*           *

More information about the Taxacom mailing list