[Taxacom] Are species real? Doesn't matter.

Neal Evenhuis neale at bishopmuseum.org
Thu May 31 16:22:08 CDT 2007

At 4:01 PM -0500 5/31/07, Steve Manning wrote:
>Continuing to use Homo sapiens as an example, what evidence should be
>used to test the hypothesis that this species is "real" and what
>would constitute evidence sufficient to decide that this hypothesis
>must be rejected? (i.e., was mistaken?).  And, if this is a problem
>to determine for Homo sapiens, is it not likely to be a greater
>problem with less familiar species?

However, before we do any "testing", we need to know what Homo 
sapiens is (i.e., what is the type specimen?) and thus have the 
proper exemplar used. The following was posted to the iczn-list a few 
years ago that helps confound the problem for what the type of Homo 
sapiens really is:

There is an interesting twist to the Linnaean "subspecies" of Homo 
sapiens. Linnaeus (1758, p. 20-22) listed five varieties/subspecies 
under Homo sapiens. However, before these varieties he described wild 
or savage "ferus" Homo sapiens as "tetrapus, mutus, hirsutus", with 
several illustrations or examples cited. After each example, added in 
brackets is information from Seguin (1907, Idiocy: and its Treatment 
by the Physiological Method) taken from 

Juvenis Lupinus Hessensis. 1344. [1544, A young man found in Hesse 
among wolves.]
Juvenis Ursinus Lithuanus. 1661. [A young man found among bears in Lithuania.]
Juvenis Ovinus Hibernus. Tulp. Obs. IV. [A young man found among wild 
sheep in Ireland.]
Juvenis Hannoverianus. [1724, A young man found in Hanover.]
Pueri 2 Pyrenaici. 1719. [Two boys found in the Pyrenees.]
Johannes Leodisensis. [Boerhaave. John of Liege.]

Article 72.4.1 of the ICZN Code excludes from the type series of a 
nominal species-group taxon specimens referred to as distinct 
variants. This means that specimens of Homo sapiens americanus, 
europaeus, asiaticus, afer, and monstrosus are not part of the type 
series of Homo sapiens and that Linnaeus is not eligible to be the 
lectotype (as designated by W. T. Stearn. 1959. Systematic Zoology 
8:4). We are thus left to select from among village idiots the 
lectotype for humankind.

Ain't nomenclature fun? Homer Simpson may be the archetype human ....


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