[Taxacom] FW: formation of zoological names with Mc, Mac, et

Francisco Welter-Schultes fwelter at gwdg.de
Tue Sep 1 06:48:12 CDT 2009

use of initials in zoology.

> "I have another funny example on the use of initials. 
> www.faunaeur.org currently records a species as Tandonia nigra (C. 
> Pfeiffer 1849). There is an error in this string. The species was 
> spelled correctly, but it was not described by C. Pfeiffer in 1849. 
> Now try to find out the error. Carl Pfeiffer was an important 
> malacologist and published in the 1820s. L. Pfeiffer was even more 
> important and published in the mid-1800s, including several papers 
> in 1849. K. L. Pfeiffer published in the 1950s, also in malacology."

> Is it the year or the author that is wrong? It must have been either
> described by C. Pfeiffer earlier and got a new combination by maybe
> another Pfeiffer in 1849, or it was described by one of the other 
> two Pfeiffers (L. or K.L.).

A new combination would not be recorded in zoology, this would very 
unlikely be an error source.
What you suspected was exactly what I had suspected - either the 
initial of C. Pfeiffer was correct and the year wrong or the inital 
wrong and the year correct. I spent much time unsuccessfully trying 
to find the species using this strategy.
I found the original description by pure coincidence when screening 
articles of a journal volume for a completely different purpose. The 
initial C. Pfeiffer was correct, but the year was 1894. There was an 
article in that journal by an author whose name was given as "C. 
Pfeiffer". I don't know what C. means. The two C. Pfeiffers were 
different persons. It is possible that the younger C. Pfeiffer never 
published anything else, and that nobody ever got to know ehat "C." 

It is also possible that the database provider (a malacological 
expert) knew that Carl Pfeiffer did not live in the 1890s, and 
"corrected" 1894 to the earlier date 1849 intentionally. 

If only a "Pfeiffer 1849" would have been given in the taxon 
name author string in the database, without initials, I would have 
searched with much more tolerance. For example I would never have 
suspected that Carl Pfeiffer could have described this species, the 
1820s were too early for such a species. 

University of Goettingen, Germany

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