[Taxacom] Type specimen

Francisco Welter-Schultes fwelter at gwdg.de
Sat May 18 16:57:29 CDT 2013

Hi Rich,

I must confess that I did not understand Doug's main point either. How
come to the conclusion that Homo sapiens was based on one single type
specimen? Doug cited Art. - "any evidence, published or
unpublished, may be taken into account to determine what specimens
constitute the type series". It should be evident that he included his
wife and mother and father, for example, and also some other persons he
knew and who were active at daytime. If not, then I see equally no
evidence that he included himself.

Yes I would say that every cat that Linnaeus saw before 1758, convinced
him of it being a true species, and contributed information to his final
description. He might have looked more closely at some of those cats, and
less closely at others, but where would you draw the line to exclude some
and include others?

He might just once have seen an entirely white cat. He might not have
examined it more closely, but when writing the description he would have
decided not to write "the species cannot be entirely white". This is of
course a speculation, but it shows the problem you have in arbitrarily
excluding specimens from the type series.

For selecting a lectotype it is of course necessary to make sure that
Linnaeus actually saw this cat. It is the lack of documentation which
usually excludes most of such specimens.


> Hi Francisco,
> I either don't understand, or don't agree, with your point here:
>> I do not agree with Doug's interpretation of the terms "included by" as
> being
>> in contrast to "examined by".
>> Art. 72.1.1 defines the type series as "all the specimens on which the
> author
>> established a nominal species-group taxon".
>> > If one chooses to claim that every human being Linnaeus met during his
>> > lifetime was a syntype, then the same logic would apply to every cat,
>> > dog, horse, chicken, sparrow, etc. that Linnaeus saw prior to
>> > publishing.
>> The cats that Linnaeus saw himself before 1758 were in agreement with
>> Art.
>> 72.1.1 and formed part of the type series, in my interpretation of the
> Code.
>> The cats that he saw after 1758 not.
>> The intensity of examination and degree of thoroughness of study cannot
>> be
>> a criterion for a nomenclatural status. Only presence and absence can be
>> a
>> criterion.
> I agree with Doug that "included by" does not mean the same thing as
> "examined by".  Furthermore, the key word (in my opinion) in Art. 72.1.1
> is
> "established".  Just because a person "sees" an organism, doesn't mean
> that
> s/he necessarily "establishes" a new name on that organism.  I do not
> agree,
> in the context of the wording of Art. 72.1.1, that Linnaeus "established"
> the name Felis catus on every individual cat he had ever seen prior to
> 1758.
> Therefore, I do not interpret Art. 72.1.1 as including all such specimens
> as
> being part of the type series.
> Having said that, I'm a little uneasy on Doug's confidence in assuming
> monotypy for H. sapiens.  I think it's reasonably unambiguous that
> Linnaeus
> included himself as a member of H. sapiens sapiens, and it's certainly
> clear
> that he had himself to examine when writing the description.  However, I'm
> not so confident that we must conclude by inference or implication that he
> was the only specimen on which the new name was established.  I tend to
> lean
> more towards the Stearn lectotypification.
> Aloha,
> Rich

Francisco Welter-Schultes
Zoologisches Institut, Berliner Str. 28, D-37073 Goettingen
Phone +49 551 395536

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