[Taxacom] Objective synonyms?

Thomas Pape TPape at snm.ku.dk
Mon May 31 15:45:17 CDT 2010

>>> The 'specific name' definition is not relevant. [Geoff Read]
Yes it is.
The definition of synonym runs:
"synonym, n.    Each of two or more names of the same rank used to
denote the same taxonomic taxon."
Note that this definition does NOT give: "Each of two or more
*scientific* names ...". From this follows that the concept of synonymy
may be applied to more than just scientific names. Thus, it applies also
to specific names. If the specific names are the same, synonymy becomes
irrelevant; if they are different, synonymy is an option.
Going back to my example of Aus bus Smith, 1900 and Cus bus (Smith,
1900), these are two different *scientific names* for a taxonomic
species with the same description and the same name-bearing type.
Clearly, as such they are synonyms. If we look at the two occurrences of
the species-group name "bus", we are looking at the same name, and as
such there is no synonymy.
Francisco expressed this as: "In the eyes of a bioinformatician, Uncia
uncia and Felis uncia are synonyms. For those who intend to apply the
ICZN Code's definition, not."
Kim expressed this as: "1 type,  1 description,  2 combinations: not

-----Original Message-----
From: taxacom-bounces at mailman.nhm.ku.edu
[mailto:taxacom-bounces at mailman.nhm.ku.edu] On Behalf Of Geoff Read
Sent: 31. maj 2010 09:52
To: taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu
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
> 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,
> with the same original description, the specific name "bus" is one and
> same specific name and as such there is no synonymy (no "two or more

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.


NIWA is the trading name of the National Institute of Water &
Atmospheric Research Ltd.


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