[Taxacom] BioNames and others names

Richard Pyle deepreef at bishopmuseum.org
Mon Jun 3 03:03:59 CDT 2013

> > But, alas, the confusion and ambiguity continue today.
> ***
> My impression is that defining yet more terms (in a field that already is
> full of them) is not helpful and will just add to the confusion.
> * * *

True, but it cuts both way.  Confusions reigns in either case.  That's a big
part of why we've made less progress on this front than we should have by

> > [...] For example, in one context, "Pseudanthias ventralis", "P.
> > ventralis", and "Pseudanthias ventralus" all need to be tracked
> > separately, so all three would get a distinct database row. [...]
> ***
> Of these, at least "P. ventralis" is clear: this is context-dependent, and
> "mined" in isolation is meaningless. There is no "need" for it to "be
> separately". (You can if you want to, but you don't need to)
> * * *

I disagree (for technical reasons), but I don't want to take the time or
bandwidth to explain in detail.

> What you said was "almost no two people agree on what a "taxon name" is."
> which IS a gross exaggeration (to put it mildly). If you start by
> people into an "ICNafp view", a "ICZN view", and a "databaser's view" you
> will have covered most of the territority. (However, if you are looking
for a
> word that means something different to each person try
> "natural"!)

OK, we're both equally guilty of gross exaggeration then.  Yes, there are
documented cases where two or more people agree.  But there are WAY more
than three interpretations of what a "taxon name" is.  The more precisely
you define the term, the more variation you discover.

> The broader taxonomic/biological community is very clear in what it
> as a taxon name: generic names, binomials / binomens, and trinomials /
> trinomens (plus some stuff at other ranks). As the Codes are geared
> providing just these, there should not have been all that much of a

This is only true with a sufficiently vague definition of "taxon name".  Get
any two random taxonomist together in a room and ask them to define it
precisely, and I'd bet you have better than even odds that they will have
some difference of opinion as to where to "draw the line".  It may be
subtle, but it will be there.

The reason I am confident in asserting this, is that I have MANY times been
in the room with taxonomists, and in an effort to come up with precise
definitions, we always start out in full agreement, but as the layers are
peeled off towards ever greater precision, the subtle differences start to
reveal themselves.


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