[Taxacom] Read... and believe...

Dan Lahr daniel.lahr at gmail.com
Sat Sep 5 19:25:00 CDT 2009

This is probably the best example I've read of how it works in
practice, or how we all expect good taxonomy to work in practice. Why
is it impossible then to make the supposedly "subjective" taxonomic
concept objective? Why only the very good, very up-to-date taxonomists
which have reinforced their concept for a certain name many times can
communicate easily and be able to make those types of inferences
("they must know something I don't" types of inferences), but we can't
make the rest of the scientists understand what we are talking about?

Maybe it is not just about cataloging names and having the bulletproof
nomenclatural system?


On Sat, Sep 5, 2009 at 4:42 AM, Stephen Thorpe<s.thorpe at auckland.ac.nz> wrote:
> This is not how identifications work in practice! If you show me a specimen of, for example, Costelytra zealandica, I will immediately tell you at a glance that it is Costelytra zealandica, and I would expect anybody else to tell you the same thing, unless either they were mistaken about something, or they knew something that I didn't (like the real type has just been found, and isn't the species we all thought, or something like that). The only thing that I have which could possibly be called a "taxon concept" of Costelytra zealandica is a mental image of a species, which has been reinforced several times from various sources (but not directly from the type) as being rightly called by the name Costelytra zealandica. If someone else tells me that they found a Costelytra zealandica, then assuming they are correct, I assume that I would agree if I saw the specimen. I don't ask what taxon concept they are using, because that makes no sense!

Daniel Lahr
PhD candidate
Organismic and Evolutionary Biology
U Massachusetts- Amherst
319 Morrill Science Center, Amherst
Amherst, MA 01003

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