[Taxacom] Homonymous synonyms / cosmic order

Francisco Welter-Schultes fwelter at gwdg.de
Thu Jun 7 11:47:32 CDT 2012

The Code is not silent, but indeed lacks important direct guidelines.
There are however, some indirect constraints in the Code for the limits of
"synonymous homonyms" at the generic level.

Art. 61.1.3 mandates that once fixed, name-bearing types are stable and
the first act of type fixation counts and cannot be changed any more.
Usually this Article is cited by Commissioners to apply to such cases.

It would probably not be in the sense of this provision to allow to define
an incorrect type species designation as the establishment of a new
generic name.

I see currently no reasons for making a difference for the situation of a
name established in the 1950s (Gymnochanda) and one established in the
If one author A in the second half of the 1700s used Rana for one frog and
another subsequent author B for a different frog, this would not mean that
author B established a new monotypic frog genus with the same name Rana.
I see no difference between monotypy (author B) and original designation
(Boeseman), also I see no difference between none of both authors A and B
having been aware where this name Rana has first been validly established,
and Boeseman not having been aware that Gymnochanda had already been

I would also argue that such an interpretation (new genus Gymnochanda
Boeseman 1957) would generally be in contrast to the Code in its present
If a new name Gymnochanda brasiliensis is established because a new
species was found in Brasil and the author decided to classify it in this
genus, then there is no need to specify the correct author for the genus
(it can even be misspelled, Art. 33). This implies that there can only be
one genus with this name in this group. Otherwise there would exist rules
how to proceed with the parentheses in such cases (Art. 51.3).
The fact that these rules do not exist suggests that the interpretation
has limits. The limit is probably near the point where it becomes unclear
in which one of the two Gymnochanda genera a species is classified. It
makes a difference if the two homonymous genera would belong to quite
unrelated fish groups (different families or so), or to very closely
related fish groups (still today both designated Gymnochandatype species
are considered congeneric).

One example at the other side of the limit is the generic name Argus,
given in ICZN Opinion 429:
Argus Scopoli 1763 (Lepidoptera: Lycaenidae: Polyommatinae)
Argus Scopoli 1777 (Lepidoptera: Nymphalidae: Satyrinae)
Argus Lamarck 1817 (Lepidoptera: Hesperiidae)
Argus Gerhard 1850 (Lepidoptera: Lycaenidae: Theclinae)

These are probably true different generic names. The authors were not
aware of the previous use and/or used the name Argus in a sense that was
outside the previously use of that name. If someone returns to classifying
all butterflies in the genus Papilio, then Argus Scopoli 1763, Argus
Scopoli 1777 and Argus Gerhard 1850 would become homonyomus synonyms. The
same with the two lycaenid names of all lycaenids are classified in


> Would not Boeseman have to be proved to be aware of Fraser-Brunner's names
> at the time for the occurrence to be a usage (aka chresonym) instead of
> the more entertaining spontaneous cosmic synonymous homonym (or whatever
> it is)?  The apparently privately circulated explanation of Boeseman is
> said to claim the latter, so he was not aware and that ought to be
> accepted as true.  But unsatisfactory to seemingly only have 2nd hand
> knowledge of the note's existence, with but a cryptic indication of the
> content.
> Geoff
> On Thu, June 7, 2012 1:27 pm, Stephen Thorpe wrote:
>> just to reiterate the point that one could interpret Boeseman's names as
>> chresonyms of Fraser-Brunner's names, and disregard any type designation
>> by Boeseman as invalid (because the type has already been fixed by
>> Fraser-Brunner) ... the Zoological Code does not have anything to say
>> about such an interpretation ...
>> Stephen
>> ________________________________
>> From: "Tony.Rees at csiro.au" <Tony.Rees at csiro.au>
>> To: WeirB at landcareresearch.co.nz
>> Cc: taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu
>> Sent: Thursday, 7 June 2012 1:07 PM
>> Subject: Re: [Taxacom] Homonymous synonyms / cosmic order
>> Hi Bevan,
>> The difference between your example and that of Gymnochanda filamentosa
>> Fraser-Brunner 1955 vs. Gymnochanda filamentosa Boeseman 1957 is that,
>> not
>> only were these 2 species established in two different genera
>> (Gymnochanda
>> Fraser-Brunner 1955 vs. Gymnochanda Boeseman 1957), but also that both
>> the
>> genera and species concerned are synonyms (although based on different
>> types) as well as homonyms of each other. That is why it seems like a
>> curious coincidence, though possibly there may be other reasons at work
>> as
>> explored by different responders. Of course there is also the "cosmic
>> order" explanation: every genus and species already has an intrinsic
>> name,
>> taxonomists merely discover them...
>> Regards - Tony
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Francisco Welter-Schultes
Zoologisches Institut, Berliner Str. 28, D-37073 Goettingen
Phone +49 551 395536

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