[Taxacom] Type specimen

Francisco Welter-Schultes fwelter at gwdg.de
Mon May 20 08:11:02 CDT 2013

Once again, I agree absolutely with Commissioner Thomas Pape and with the
interpretation given on the ICZN website in this issue.

The term "variants" refers to subspecies, varieties or infrasubspecific
entities. There can also be variants of noninterrupted variability or
polymorphism. The term covers everything that is distinct and works as the
equivalent of "doubtfully included" rule concerning type species in the
genus-group taxa.

Yes, it would be good to have this term explained in the Glossary. Any
suggestions for a good wording? Thomas?

Back to Stephen's concerns.

Linnaeus established Homo sapiens and included various taxa at subspecific
rank: H. sapiens sapiens, H. sapiens europaeus, H. sapiens americanus and
others. It was not necessary that Linnaeus stated explicitly that H.
sapiens sapiens was a variety or subspecies carrying this rank, because
Linnaeus gave a description for H. sapiens, so the subspecific rank H.
sapiens sapiens was automatically covered by the Principle of Coordination
(Art. 46.1).
I agree with Stephen that Linnaeus subdivided H. sapiens into distinct
variants (Paul: instead of variants we can say subspecies in this special
case) which had their own types, but I clearly do not agree with his
argument that H. sapiens sapiens did not belong to these variants.
The specimens that were meant to belong to H. sapiens europaeus and H.
sapiens americanus were not meant to belong to H. sapiens sapiens. These
specimens were excluded from belonging to H. sapiens sapiens by Art.

I think Stephen's great misunderstanding consists in that H. sapiens
europaeus would cover all Europeans, including Linné himself. This has
already been explained in a previous mail here, a few days ago. Such an
interpretation would not be covered by the Latin descriptions. H. sapiens
europaeus covered only a few Europeans, but not all. The other Europeans,
which did not fit the description of H. sapiens europaeus (because they
did not have these very special morphological features), were meant to
belong to H. sapiens sapiens. Among those was Linné himself. Linné himself
did clearly not belong to H. sapiens europaeus.

As to the Aus xus example given by Thomas: there is a real-life equivalent
in European molluscs for that case, more than half a dozen well-known
European molluscs have this problem. Malacologists are fighting a
permanent dispute, usually not on the names, but on the authorships and
dates of these species. Examples are Caracollina lenticula, Elona
quimperiana, Xerocrassa cretica. I belong to those who agree with Thomas
Pape's interpretation of the Code. As said in a previous message a few
days ago here, I have left a note in 2008 in Gary's ICZN-Wiki to fix this
problem in the next edition of the Code. Exactly in the sense of the
interpretation outlined by Thomas in his previous message in this thread.


> From: "Thomas Pape" <TPape at snm.ku.dk>
> Sent: Monday, May 20, 2013 12:22 AM
>> Another part of you argument is tied to Article 72.4.1 and the statement
>> that the type series of a nominal species-group taxon excludes any
>> specimens "that the author [...] refers to as distinct variants".
> ***
> What does the word "variant" mean here? (it is not in the Glossary);
> if it means "subspecies" (and/or "variety") then Stephen Thorpe's
> interpretation would seem to be right, unless "refers to as distinct
> variants" means something different from "refers to distinct variants"
> (i.e. a specimen-is-a variant versus a specimen-belongs-to-a-variant)?
> Paul
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Francisco Welter-Schultes
Zoologisches Institut, Berliner Str. 28, D-37073 Goettingen
Phone +49 551 395536

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