[Taxacom] Generic type of large genus belongs in different genus

Roderic Page r.page at bio.gla.ac.uk
Wed Apr 10 16:19:47 CDT 2013

Dear Mary,

It's not so much that names are without meaning, it's just that we have to be circumspect about how we interpret them. A species called "Aus australiensis" is most likely to be found in Australia, but it might not. If not, I'd accept that the name was misleading and move on. I don't change the name to more accurately reflect its distribution (nor would I change it back if it was rediscovered in Australia). 

I'm suggesting we apply the same approach to relationships. Two congeneric species are likely to be related, but might not be. If they aren't, could we not live with that? Must we change the name?

In my extended family, surnames hardly correspond to actual relationships: some children have different surnames names to their mother, some couples are divorced but retain the same surname. Everybody seems pretty clear what the actual relationships are, and that surnames are a poor predictor of those relationships.



On 10 Apr 2013, at 21:36, Mary Barkworth wrote:

> Detaching names from meaning reminds me of being shown this wonderful little plant and being told it was London Pride. OK. A bit of information. What did that gain me? Nothing. I stayed away from biology. The fact that there is meaning behind the names makes them worthwhile and helps one learn stuff. Perhaps having had many friends change their name during the course of the their lives (I am old and many of my friends are female), name changes do not bother me greatly. How names change and why they change is interesting/informative. I think it is great being able to link everything up - but the idea of stripping meaning from names (or incarcerating the meaning at a particular date) strikes me as counter-productive. 
> Mary
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Roderic Page
Professor of Taxonomy
Institute of Biodiversity, Animal Health and Comparative Medicine
College of Medical, Veterinary and Life Sciences
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