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

Richard Pyle deepreef at bishopmuseum.org
Thu Sep 3 13:02:52 CDT 2009

> Rich, I'm surprised you keep asking this. A fundamental 
> feature of the ICZN (it might go back further, too, before 
> 1889) is that names are tied to authors. The author and date 
> are coordinated with the name, so that if a species name is 
> associated with a different genus, or a supraspecific taxon 
> changes rank within a group, the authorship moves with it, 
> and this specifies priority, just as Stephen says.

Yes, we all know this (except I'm not sure what you mean by "and this
specifies priority" -- the "priority" part of this conversation was
concerning the inclusion of year as well as authorship, whether or not a
species epithet changes genus).  

The repeated claim of Stephen's that I was disputing is that the *reason*
for this practice was exclusively to diambiguate homonyms and establish
priority; and that people who think that the reason for it is to help
identifiry the original publication in which the name was established are
somehow misguided.  My contention is that there are multiple reasons why
this convention of qualifying a scientific name with author and/or year has
been useful over the centuries:

- To give credit where credit is due
- To more explicitly represent the name (i.e., Human Identifier/homonym
- To point to an original publication

In my mind, the name citation "Examplus primus Smith, 1970" (to borrow
Stephen's example) should be read as "The species name 'Examplus primus' of
Smith, 1970".  This doesn't say *why* the name is qualified by the author
and year; it just represents them as useful additional information that
fulfills all three of the objectives listed above. In other words, it's not
that I was disputing the utility of authorship & year for homonym
disambiguation and priority-at-a-glance purposes; I was questioning the
certitude Stephen was portraying that there was "a" specific reason for the
additional information.

By the way, from the perspective of the ICZN Code, it seems to me that the
"give credit where credit is due" reason is the one most heavily emphasized.

Also, note above my characterization of authorship and year as "qualifying"
the name; not "part of" the name.  The ICZN Code is explicit that the
authorship and year are not "part" of the name.  They represent
sumpplementary information, conventionally (though somewhat inconsistently)
appended to the name, serving a variety of useful purposes.


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