[Taxacom] Quick question re formation of a family-group name

Stephen Thorpe stephen_thorpe at yahoo.co.nz
Mon Dec 20 17:31:29 CST 2010

the quoted article (  states, to paraphrase it slightly, something 

if you are proposing a new family group name for a type genus with grammatical 
stem ending in -id, then you may choose whether to elide those letters. If 
however, an established family group name of this kind has the unelided form in 
prevailing usage, then that is the correct spelling regardless of the original 

So, applying this article to the case at hand:

(1) you need to determine the original spelling. If it is unelided, then that is 
the correct spelling, and stop there!

(2) if the original spelling is elided, then you need to determine "prevailing 
usage" (does that mean in primary taxonomic sources only, or secondary, 
tertiary, etc. sources on Google?). If prevailing usage is of the elided form, 
then the original spelling is the correct spelling, but if it is unelided, 
then the unelided form is the correct spelling.


From: "Tony.Rees at csiro.au" <Tony.Rees at csiro.au>
To: taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu
Sent: Tue, 21 December, 2010 12:17:25 PM
Subject: [Taxacom] Quick question re formation of a family-group name

Dear taxacomers,

For a genus of flatworms (Pericelis Laidlaw, 1902) which is the type genus of a 
family, the family name is given variously as Pericelidae (e.g. in Parker, 1982 
and in the World Register of Marine Species and ITIS) or Pericelididae (as given 
in other sources e.g. the Turbellarian taxonomic database at this time).

The Zoological Code allows either construction so far as I can tell, and 
ultimately goes to "prevailing usage":

<snip> If the stem so formed ends in -id, those letters may be elided before 
adding the family-group suffixes. If, however, the unelided form is in 
prevailing usage, that spelling is to be maintained, whether or not it is the 
original spelling.

Example. The family-group names HALIOTIDAE and HALIOTOIDEA are not changed to 
HALIOTIDIDAE and HALIOTIDOIDEA, even though the stem of Haliotis is Haliotid-, 
as the latter spellings are not in prevailing usage.


"elided" was not a term I was previously familiar with, but means omitted or 
eliminated for present purposes.

If that well known authority Google is anything to go by, Pericelidae wins over 
its longer rival (11,700 vs. 143) but I have a feeling that this may conceivably 
be skewed by propagation and re-propagation of some high profile listing, e.g. 
Catalogue of Life  - for example unreviewed names from the original NODC 
taxonomic code are still present in ITIS and in some cases passed up to CoL 
without further comment or scrutiny, and this appears to be one such name. (This 
is not intended to be a springboard for criticism of that system, just a 
possible indication of how and why such things may happen).

Suggestions, authoritative or not would be welcome as to which name would be 
more appropriate to follow at this time - at present my preference would be for 
the longer form since that appears to be used in arguably more authoritative 
sources, but I am open to other evidence. For example in Zoological Record, a 
search on "Pericelidae" yields one hit only, but Pericelididae yields none...  
Pericelidae has 13 hits on Google scholar, Pericelididae has 3.

Does anyone have a magic bullet here, maybe?

Regards - Tony

Tony Rees
Manager, Divisional Data Centre,
CSIRO Marine and Atmospheric Research,
GPO Box 1538,
Hobart, Tasmania 7001, Australia
Ph: 0362 325318 (Int: +61 362 325318)
Fax: 0362 325000 (Int: +61 362 325000)
e-mail: Tony.Rees at csiro.au
Manager, OBIS Australia regional node, http://www.obis.org.au/
Biodiversity informatics research activities: 
Personal info: 


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