[Taxacom] Re Proposed ICZN amendments on electronic publishing - what about types?

Bob Mesibov mesibov at southcom.com.au
Fri Dec 5 17:33:22 CST 2008

Rodolphe Rougerie wrote:

"Sorry to turn the discussion beyond that amendment, but that's
personally where I would expect the most important changes for the
future of the field, not that much into enabling or not e-publications."

Don't apologise, it's a key issue. Much of this discussion has been
about tracking/preserving documents of the kind "What I did when I
examined the type". It could be argued that you could replace the whole
taxonomic literature with a museum of all the types. This all-type
collection would represent the combined effort of centuries discovering
and documenting the variety of life. It would survive any and all
changes in information technology, and it could be the material basis
for rebuilding taxonomic science after a Dark Age. Thinking like this
has led to the establishment of seed banks for plants, and a limited
amount of gene banking.

Which would we rather have after that Dark Age? A baked clay tablet with
a species description in cuneiform (I like that one, it comes from a
TAXACOM thread years ago), or the suitably preserved type of that

And if you accept that we should be doing more to preserve specimens of
those species before they go extinct, in advance of having them
described by a diminishing workforce of taxonomists, well... start
singing "It's Time to Salvage What We've Got Before It's Gone".
Dr Robert Mesibov
Honorary Research Associate
Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery
and School of Zoology, University of Tasmania
Home contact: PO Box 101, Penguin, Tasmania, Australia 7316
Ph (03) 64371195; 61 3 64371195
Webpage: http://www.qvmag.tas.gov.au/mesibov.html

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