[Taxacom] Drosophila melanogaster name change?

dipteryx at freeler.nl dipteryx at freeler.nl
Thu Apr 15 02:22:14 CDT 2010

Van: taxacom-bounces at mailman.nhm.ku.edu namens Doug Yanega
Verzonden: wo 14-4-2010 19:19

>[...] Destroying two perfectly valid type species designations 
> just to preserve a single genus-species combination is
> more than a little disruptive, especially for solely the sake 
> of convenience. More to the point, if people went around claiming 
> that the most well-known species in every genus was its "de facto" 
> type species, this would completely undermine the entire concept 
> of type species fixation - one of the absolute foundations of 
> every Code of Nomenclature, zoological or otherwise.

Making broad generalizing statements is not likely to be very helpful. 
The point is that "Drosophila" and "Drosophila melanogaster" belong
to a very limited class of 'names' that transcend scientific nomenclature. 
Other cases are "E. coli" and "C. elegans" that from a nomenclatural 
perspective are incomplete and uninformative, but are very widely used 
without any risk of misunderstanding. 

Of course, what consequences this should have can be argued both ways:
on the one hand it can be postulated that if such well-known names 
are not protected, what name is there that does deserve protection?

On the other hand, it can be brought forward that such names are so 
well-established that it does not matter what the actual scientific name
is so that there is no real reason to act to protect the scientific name. 
Scientific names are there for taxonomists, and the rest of the world 
does fine without them.

The one thing that looks really clear is that a new name like Sophophora
melanogaster is unlikely to replace Drosophila melanogaster, 
for non-taxonomists, in anything less than several decades. There is 
a tree that is fairly well-known, under the name Butyrospermum parkii: 
this name was replaced by the unearthed name Vitellaria paradoxa, 
a change that is now completely incorporated in all taxonomic works, 
field guides, etc. Although this happened over forty years ago, in a 
Google search Butyrospermum parkii still outdraws Vitellaria paradoxa 
by 5:1.

Paul van Rijckevorsel

P.S.: the statement "type species fixation - one of the absolute foundations
of every Code of Nomenclature, zoological or otherwise." is of course untrue

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