[Taxacom] Objective synonyms?

Stephen Thorpe stephen_thorpe at yahoo.co.nz
Mon May 31 03:17:12 CDT 2010

there are more interpretations of the ICZN floating around in Taxacom than there are oil particles in the GoM!

>Posting from my workplace on this rare occasion
Does this imply that you rarely work? :)

>It's very straightforward
No, it isn't!

>The ICZN definition of synonym is referring to a 'taxonomic taxon'
But later you say that the taxon is the animal [or plant, or ...], so do we have taxonomic polychaetes in N.Z. waters???

The rest of your explanation is either incomprehensible or rhetoric aimed at me (e.g., 'the result will be strangeness, like thoughts that new combinations cannot be objective synonyms and similar interpretations that have no basis')


From: Geoff Read <g.read at niwa.co.nz>
To: taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu
Sent: Mon, 31 May, 2010 7:52:06 PM
Subject: Re: [Taxacom] Objective synonyms?

Posting from my workplace on this rare occasion. My views only.

>>> On 29/05/2010 at 9:59 p.m., "Thomas Pape" <TPape at snm.ku.dk> wrote:
> As for synonym, this is defined as:
> "synonym, n. --- Each of two or more names of the same rank used to denote the 
> same taxonomic taxon."
> Take note of the "two or more names", but be careful with the concept of a 
> "name" at the species level, as this easily creates confusion. The ICodeZN 
> clearly defines a "specific name" as: "The second name in a binomen and in a 
> trinomen". Therefore, given Aus bus Smith, 1900 and Cus bus (Smith, 1900) 
> with the same original description, the specific name "bus" is one and the 
> same specific name and as such there is no synonymy (no "two or more names"). 

The 'specific name' definition is not relevant. Francisco Welter-Shultes, who mentions this posting approvingly, makes the same mistake as Thomas does above.

It's very straightforward. The ICZN definition of synonym is referring to a 'taxonomic taxon', which in this argument is at the species level.  The definition of scientific name of a species is, quote from ICZN, "two names (a binomen)", and similarly the definition of a species name is that it is the genus and specific name combination, two names. It is bizarre to advocate that 'name' in this context is referring to anything other than a 'scientific name of a species', which is a *binomen*, or option 2, the 'species name' which is also defined as a *binomen*. Obviously the 'specific name', the second name in the binomen, that Thomas and Francisco concentrate on, is not the scientific name of a species, it is merely an epithet, only part of the scientific name. Thus if one wrongly uses the definition of 'specific name', the epithet, in this context of synonymy, rather than that of 'scientific name', or  'species name', the result will be strangeness,
 like thoughts that new combinations cannot be objective synonyms and similar interpretations that have no basis.

Francisco Welter-Shultes said, "The term "objective synonym" as used and defined in the ICZN Code is restricted to nominal taxa. Under the ICZN Code this term cannot be used for species names."

That is incorrect.  The definition says the synonym *denotes* the nominal taxon, which is a rather different thing.  The synonym is the name, not the taxon, which is an animal and cannot possibly be a synonym of anything.


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