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

Stephen Thorpe s.thorpe at auckland.ac.nz
Wed Feb 10 20:09:05 CST 2010

I was initially misled by the fact that you can describe a new species in an unavailable genus (name), but apparently not a new genus with only unavailable species names included in it. It is less clear that there is any problem with the descriptions being in an e-only supplement, depending on the correct interpretation of:

13.1. Requirements. To be available, every new name published after 1930 must satisfy the provisions of Article 11 and must
13.1.1. be accompanied by a description or definition that states in words characters that are purported to differentiate the taxon, or
13.1.2. be accompanied by a bibliographic reference to such a published statement, even if the statement is contained in a work published before 1758, or in one that is not consistently binominal, or in one that has been suppressed by the Commission (unless the Commission has ruled that the work is to be treated as not having been published [Art. 8.7] ...

a bibiographic citation to an e-only document would seem to be OK on my reading?

One has to admit that the rules are VERY complex and confusing, but the best solution to that is to keep things simple when describing new taxa, and not try to do anything "fancy"...

From: taxacom-bounces at mailman.nhm.ku.edu [taxacom-bounces at mailman.nhm.ku.edu] On Behalf Of Doug Yanega [dyanega at ucr.edu]
Sent: Thursday, 11 February 2010 2:26 p.m.
Subject: [Taxacom] new nomina nuda (was Re:  e-only taxonomic publication)

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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