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

Stephen Thorpe s.thorpe at auckland.ac.nz
Fri Sep 4 19:42:53 CDT 2009

To some extent, the author of a name functions in one of the same ways that author of a publication functions. For example, would you buy a book on human evolutionary origins by John Grehan? Perhaps you would, perhaps not, but you see my point, don't you?! :) Similarly, if I see a staphylinid beetle name with author Broun (who was an early pioneer famous for creating many synonyms), I would not attach much meaning to it by comparison to one with author Newton, for example. Though, of course it isn't quite that simple because Newton could revise Broun's taxa, and they would still carry Broun's name as author, but are now as reliable as Newton names. The situation is further complicated by replacement names, but as a sort of "general rule of thumb", the author of a name gives you some indication of at least how useful the original description is likely to be...


From: taxacom-bounces at mailman.nhm.ku.edu [taxacom-bounces at mailman.nhm.ku.edu] On Behalf Of Francisco Welter-Schultes [fwelter at gwdg.de]
Sent: Friday, 4 September 2009 8:03 p.m.
To: taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu
Subject: Re: [Taxacom] FW: formation of zoological names with Mc, Mac, et


> There is no "one" reason why authorship information is appended to a
> scientific name -- different people see it in different ways;

Seems to be so. Sometimes I wonder why author is needed. Year would be
sufficient, this is useful for the priority issue. Genus-species-year
would be almost equally (and of course not totally) unique as
genus-species-author-year. Author seems to have been added for various
reasons, initially not in the sense we use author today. In the second
half of the 1800s they used author more in the sense of what we would call
sensu today.

Author in our sense seems to have been standardized (to refer to the one
and only author of an original description) in the beginnings of the
1900s, at least in malacology. I guess author survived the past 100 years
primarily because it proved to be useful for the error control and helpful
for keeping track of species, many of which were placed in different

Sometimes it can be useful to think about the reasons why we use certain
components of such a historically developed identifier.



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