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

Tony.Rees at csiro.au Tony.Rees at csiro.au
Mon Dec 20 18:03:48 CST 2010

Hi Doug, thanks for the input.

I've located the original work i.e. Laidlaw, 1902, in Gardiner, Fauna Maldive Laccad., 1 (3), 291, in which the family is erected and therein spelled Pericelidae, here:


So I am presuming that settles it?

Cheers - Tony

> -----Original Message-----
> From: taxacom-bounces at mailman.nhm.ku.edu [mailto:taxacom-
> bounces at mailman.nhm.ku.edu] On Behalf Of Doug Yanega
> Sent: Tuesday, 21 December 2010 10:49 AM
> Subject: Re: [Taxacom] Quick question re formation of a family-group name
> Tony Rees wrote:
> >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.
> >
> ></snip>
> >
> >"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?
> If there are two spellings in use, then one has to appear at an
> earlier date in the literature. The *default* option under the Code
> is to use the oldest name, but there are conditions - such as
> prevailing usage - where the default does not apply. The Code is
> reasonably clear on what sorts of sources qualify for determining
> "prevailing usage", so - in principle - a thorough look at the
> primary literature dating back 50 years (e.g., see Art. 23.9.1)
> *should* be sufficient. It is always possible in a very small group
> with few publishing authors, that these minimum requirements are not
> met, and various situations and approaches are outlined in other
> parts of Article 23.9, some of which may require petitioning the ICZN
> for a ruling.
> In the present case, the names are rather close to the insect family
> Periscelididae, and the shorter spelling is less likely to be
> confused, but that's not *technically* a homonym, so it doesn't
> really come into play.
> It seems possible that someone not conversant with the Code but
> conversant in Latin is responsible for the change from Pericelidae to
> Pericelididae, but the citation you give - - is quite
> explicit that the name should NOT be changed, even if it's bad Latin.
> Bad Latin is not a Code violation, though many people seem to act as
> if it is.
> Sincerely,
> --
> 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)
>               http://cache.ucr.edu/~heraty/yanega.html
>    "There are some enterprises in which a careful disorderliness
>          is the true method" - Herman Melville, Moby Dick, Chap. 82
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