[Taxacom] Life and Literature Code Challenge

Francisco Welter-Schultes fwelter at gwdg.de
Thu Sep 1 18:44:16 CDT 2011

Chris certainly didn't mean that BHL could not be trying to take some more
efforts for helping the users in finding the original descriptions of
names. BHL just cannot do that in terms of taking definite decisions "here
is the original source you are looking for".

It is correct that we are confronted with increasing difficulties in
providing correct OCRs if it comes to literature published before around
1830. In many pre-1800 works specific names of animals were even mentioned
without being "directly" combined with any genus at all, the genus was
mentioned several pages before.
To cover the early years in zoology better I see it as a promising
approach to integrate data from Sherborn's Index Animalium and AnimalBase,
perhaps also others, that contain say "proposals" for which names in an
early work could be regarded as "new taxa". Of course, as always, only to
be thought as a useful service, with information on the availability of
these names partly contradicting each other (which I would see as an

My experience is that it is very difficult to see in a pre-1830
publication if a name was new and mentioned for the first time. Sherborn
and AnimalBase can be used to provide some help there.

No nomenclator and no web service, much less a library service can give
you a garantee that what has been marked was the original description of a
zoological name - in the sense of the currently accepted nomenclatural
rules. Too many disturbances can interfere. What could be done is to
provide some proposals equipped with acceptably high levels of
I see no other way to do this than by integrating manually composed files.


Dr. F. Welter-Schultes
University of Goettingen, Germany

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