[Taxacom] new nomina nuda (was Re: e-only taxonomic publication)

Doug Yanega dyanega at ucr.edu
Wed Feb 10 19:26:59 CST 2010

Referring to the new Mecopteroid names in Science that - evidently - 
had no code-compliant print versions of their descriptions, Stephen 
Thorpe wrote:

>On second thoughts the new generic names are unavailable also (see 
>the above caveat about originally included nominal species must be 
>cited by an AVAILABLE name). Though, had one of the new genera 
>included an already named species, then this would have been type 
>species ...

That would indeed be the case; if there were no previously-described, 
available taxon names cited, then none of the names in this work 
would be available, creating yet another fine mess like Darwinius and 
the others.

I've contacted the authors for clarification, and passed this along 
to the ICZN mailing list for additional input. Damage control, for 
sure, though the responsibility lies with the authors, editors, or 
both; however, it doesn't matter how hard a line the ICZN takes, 
since *compliance* with the Code cannot be "enforced" in any 
meaningful sense (if people want to recognize and use Ren et al.'s 
names, then they may well do so despite the names being unavailable - 
and if someone subsequently makes those names available, and someone 
points out that the Code gives authorship to THAT person, then folks 
might STILL ignore the Code and act as if Ren et al. were the 
authors). As Frank has pointed out, there are precedents, and 
generally speaking, the taxonomic community in these cases (nearly 
all of the involved taxa have been fossils, correct, Frank?) has 
shown little, if any, sign that they CARE about whether a name is 
Code-compliant or not. The reaction is often not "Oh, crud, you're 
right - guess we'll have to stop treating these names as valid and 
publish new descriptions " but instead "What is *wrong* with these 
ICZN bureaucrats, anyway?" (and, I imagine, a protracted session of 
eye-rolling and silent mockery every time they read a message from 
one of us "rule lawyers").

Rodney Dangerfield would understand.


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)
   "There are some enterprises in which a careful disorderliness
         is the true method" - Herman Melville, Moby Dick, Chap. 82

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