[Taxacom] Sperm whale scientific name - catodon or macrocephalus?

B.J.Tindall bti at dsmz.de
Fri Jul 4 05:15:40 CDT 2008

Dear Geoff,
I have raised this type of point before and get 
two reactions. One implies I am being unfair, the 
other, as in the case of Tony Rees (also 
off-list) asking how one can tackle the problems 
and seeking constructive co-operation. The issue 
is that lists of names alone may be the first 
step, but at a certain point one has to ask what 
is behind them, which is where experts come in. 
The goal is, of course, at a certain point to 
sort out all such problems and provide an "expert 
solution" which is based on exactly what you are 
referring to. This emphasises that we continue to 
need experts and as the databases get bigger and 
the data load gets greater the more careful one has to be.

My impression is that the problem has been 
recognised and given the magnitude of the task it 
will take time to implement. Interesting and 
encouraging to see that Tony consulted the ICZN - 
we are moving in the right direction.


At 09:23 04.07.08, 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perhaps some person's unpublished instantaneous 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)
>Taxacom mailing list
>Taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu

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