[Taxacom] Type specimen

Richard Pyle deepreef at bishopmuseum.org
Sat May 18 17:52:23 CDT 2013

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

Inferring syntype series that are not explicitly stated is always dangerous;
but I still do not agree with your logic that the syntype series must
include every individual ever seen by the person establishing the new name.
If John James Audubon observed a flock of 100 birds, then shot three of them
and deposited them in a Museum, and described it as a new species based on
those three species, is every bird in the entire flock (indeed, every bird
in every flock observed by Audobon) part of the syntype series?  Or just the
three specimens.  *Technically* you could argue that there are thousands of
members of the syntype series, but I strongly suspect that most people would
regard only three specimens as being part of the syntype series.

Were it only so simple that everything in the Code was based on purely
objective demarcations. (Indeed, it would be nice to find even *one* thing
in the Code that is utterly immune to ambiguity!)

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

Yes, agreed.  I think we can certainly be confident that Linnaeus had
himself available for examination, so it is safe to include him among the
syntype series (and as a legitimate candidate for a lectotype).  I'm not
quite so confident that he can be inferred to be the *only* member of the
type series for H. s. sapiens.


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