[Taxacom] Homonymous synonyms / cosmic order

Francisco Welter-Schultes fwelter at gwdg.de
Mon Jun 4 12:15:50 CDT 2012

The Code does not give a definition how to distinguish between a new name
and a subsequent use of a previously established name. This is a gap in
the Code.

How would you define the difference? Just saying, the subsequent author
did not know the previous source, is probably not enough. If someone used
a pre-Linnean generic name and made it available for the Linnean
nomenclature, and later other authors did the same, and used this name for
basically the same animals, then those authors did not create homonymous
synonyms. The name is to be attributed to the author who first made it
available, and all the others are just subsequent uses.

I always ask this question to take a decision on the difference:

If the second author had known that the name had already existed, would he
or she have used that name, or would he or she have proposed a new name
for it?

If the dead Alekseyev had known in 1963 that Ovechkin had established C.
ornata in 1954, would Alekseyev have selected a new name for his species,
or would he have used ornata for it?
Only if a new name, and later we come to the conclusion that both belong
to the same species, then it is a homonymous synonym.
A homonymous objective synonym would not be possible under this
definition. Only a homonymous subjective synonym.

The same with Il'ina's name. Would Il'ina 1955 have used ornata if
Ovechkin's 1954 work had been known?

Many names of species were used because scientists copied them from
specimen labels. They did not always know who was the first to have
published a description. In malacology before 1905 the shell dealer and
not the author of the first description was acknowledged as the author of
the name. Shell dealers sent around labelled shells to various scientists,
and the first to have coincidentally published a brief description is
today the author of the name. The other authors only used that name
subsequently, no matter if they knew who had first published a
descrioption or not.
It does not matter if the subsequent authors had received from the dealer
different shells from different regions under such a name, and later
someone found out that those specimens belonged to a different species.


> There are a number of ways in which homonym/synonyms can be created. One
> interesting case is that of a Paleogene fauna described by Alekseyev who
> died before his paper could be published. His material was later studied
> by Ovechkin who published on the fa
> una in 1954 and obviously picked up names from labels on the specimens.
> The same fauna was again studied by Il'ina who published in 1955, also
> using the same labeled material. In 1963 someone decided to publish
> Alekseyev's manuscript. As a result we hav
> e,
> Cancellaria ornata Ovechkin, 1954
> Admete ornata Il'ina, 1955
> Cancellaria ornata Alekseyev, 1963
> All are synonyms and the first and last are, of course, also homonyms.  As
> all are independently produced available names, Admete ornata Il'ina
> becomes the valid name as Cancellaria ornata is preoccupied by Deshayes,
> 1864.
> Ovechkin and Il'ina did not use Ovechkin's names for all of the species
> they described.

you meant probably Alekseyev's names.

> dick p.
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Francisco Welter-Schultes
Zoologisches Institut, Berliner Str. 28, D-37073 Goettingen

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