[Taxacom] Read... and believe...
dyanega at ucr.edu
Fri Sep 4 13:27:32 CDT 2009
Richard Petit wrote:
>I hope someone will post an explanation of: "If a specimen is named
>but the taxonomic classification used in the naming is not specified
>then it can't be know which taxon (of the multiple possible taxon
>concepts for that name) it has been identified to."
Actually, that is exactly how it works in real life. I cannot tell
you how many times I've come across museum specimens with an ID label
bearing a species name which could have any of a number of possible
meanings depending on who did the ID, in what year, and which
key/revision they used. Most often, it is old specimens IDed prior to
subsequent revisionary work, that were never re-IDed. The other
similar large subset is taxa with formally recognized subspecies, but
for which an ID label is binomial - does that mean the IDer knew it
was the nominate subspecies, or does it mean that they didn't believe
in using subspecies names? Sometimes, it was the work of a taxonomist
who did not examine type material, and therefore wrongly - and
consistently - applied incorrect species names to specimens they
examined, leaving a trail of mis-named specimens in every collection
they visited (commonly thereby "contaminating" other specimens, when
curators or other taxonomists use comparisons to *those* specimens to
make IDs rather than using keys/descriptions).
This sort of thing - not accepting ID labels at face value - is part
and parcel of the curatorial side of specimen-based research, and
Hyam is only pointing out the obvious. Yes, it's sad, but it's *true*.
Doug Yanega Dept. of Entomology Entomology Research Museum
Univ. of California, Riverside, CA 92521-0314 skype: dyanega
phone: (951) 827-4315 (standard disclaimer: opinions are mine, not UCR's)
"There are some enterprises in which a careful disorderliness
is the true method" - Herman Melville, Moby Dick, Chap. 82
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