[Taxacom] Sperm whale scientific name - catodon ormacrocephalus?

Roderic Page r.page at bio.gla.ac.uk
Fri Jul 4 04:53:27 CDT 2008


Question of no doubt appalling naivety -- does it really matter which  
name we use? Isn't the important issue that two names are in use, and  
we know that they are synonyms? As much fun as it is to trawl through  
ancient texts  and argue about such pressing issues as line priority  
(so-called "intellectual grunt"), will change things much? We have a  
wealth of information about this species, linked to two different  
names. Will the effort expended to choose one name over the other have  
much practical benefit (over and above what we have already by knowing  
that the two names are synonyms). Will this effort scale across all of  
life?

Regards

Rod


On 4 Jul 2008, at 08:23, Geoff Read wrote:

>>>> On 4/07/2008 at 3:01 p.m., <Tony.Rees at csiro.au> wrote:
>> The residual problem is that ITIS, and thus Catalogue of Life,  
>> GBIF, EoL,
>> WoRMS etc. follow the 3rd Edition of Mammal Species of the World  
>> (MSW), which
>> prefers the name catodon (presumably agreeing with Schevill's  
>> argument, as
>> per references cited below). The question is then how this  
>> discrepancy of
>> naming gets reconciled, and maybe one for which the parties on this
>> listserver may have some suggestions and/or influence.
>
> Sure Tony, this is easy, at least to know which is best to follow.  
> ITIS and its ilk are secondary sources, just lists, no analysis.  
> They don't make actual decisions, have no heft for me as a  
> taxonomist (as very, very useful as summaries and guides they may  
> be), just reflect - err ... something - perhaps another list,  
> perhaps some person's unpublished instantaneous gut decision.  If  
> it's worthwhile doing, always go to the primary taxonomic  
> literature, and work it out, which it seems you've done  
> successfully.  That's where the intellectual grunt can be seen, and  
> the logic laid out for viewing, hopefully. I looked at the WoRMs  
> entry for P. catodon for instance and there was no source there that  
> seemed likely to be other than a secondary one (with all due respect  
> to Time-Life Books). So is it a 'discrepancy' or are the list- 
> builder guys just follow-the-leader wrong in this instance?
>
> Geoff Read (suggesting only)
>
>
>
>
>
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Roderic Page
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