[Taxacom] describing new species

Stephen Thorpe stephen_thorpe at yahoo.co.nz
Tue Dec 18 15:45:55 CST 2012

That's an interesting take on it ... one that I hadn't thought of. I guess I wasn't taking "describing new species" quite literally, and was instead thinking about general taxonomy/diagnostics. So we can also ask the question: is general taxonomy/diagnostics relevant any more? It is true that, by and large, new species tend to be rare in nature, and/or in out of the way places, and so we should perhaps be putting due focus on documenting the common species properly in areas where we live. There is perhaps an assumption that this has all been done, but of course it hasn't (maybe in the U.K., but certainly not here...)

From: Michael Wilson <wilsomichael at gmail.com>
To: Taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu 
Sent: Wednesday, 19 December 2012 10:30 AM
Subject: [Taxacom] describing new species


To (partly) address Neal's comment. To me it remains essential to
describe new species as part of a revision of a group. But some seem
to prioritise and celebrate the description of 'new species' over the
recognition of 'known' species. How many places in the world are you
able to identify 'common' species in many groups without special
expertise and knowledge of the literature? Would the Journal that
rejected Chris's paper publish a paper in which a key to say 20 known
species was given that made life easier for users- or is that not
considered science now?  A colleague did say to me some time ago- if
you make taxonomy too easy for others to use we won't have jobs... but
that's another issue.

Mike Wilson

National Museum of Wales, Cardiff, UK


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