[Taxacom] New species of the future

Doug Yanega dyanega at ucr.edu
Tue Oct 29 15:53:38 CDT 2013

On 10/29/13 11:44 AM, Robert Mill wrote:
> Impressive stuff, except for one important and very basic thing - the authors have neglected to check that  their epithet was spelled  correctly. It isn't - it should be cavernicola, not "cavernicolus".- All Latin epithets ending in -cola denoting the habitat of the plant or animal are spelled that way regardless of whether the genus is masculine, feminine or neuter because the ending -cola  is treated as a noun in apposition and therefore it is indeclinable. You cannot write "cavernicolus" or "cavernicolum", or anything else -colus or -colum. At least not in botany because Art. 23.5 of the ICN (Melbourne Code) says that "-colus" and "-colum" endings are to be treated as correctable errors, to -cola. There is an accompanying Example: "Ex. 8. When Blanchard proposed Rubus “amnicolus”, it was a correctable error for R. amnicola Blanch. (1906)".
> I trust that Biodiversity Data Journal will publish the necessary correction in due course, assuming that the ICZN also requires that incorrect endings such as -colus be corrected.
The section of the ICZN dealing with mandatory spelling emendations 
(Art. 32) excludes incorrect latinization, so "-colus" and "-colum" 
endings are fine [though, as an aside, malformed epithets can seriously 
confuse the issue when one of those species is moved into a different 
genus; i.e., if this centipede is placed into a neuter genus, is 
"cavernicolus" treated as a noun, and left alone, or an adjective, 
therefore becoming "cavernicolum"? Did the authors of this paper specify 
whether it was a noun?].

The only part of the ICZN that might cross that line Robert mentions is 
31.1.2 which details how to form patronyms (-i for men, -ae for women, 
-orum for a group, etc.), which is worded in such a way that it can be 
*interpreted* to mean that if an author screws it up, the name needs to 
be fixed. The exact phrasing is "is to be formed by" - not "should be 
formed by", which would mean exceptions can be tolerated, or "must be 
formed by" which would mean no exceptions. And if there are no 
exceptions, there is nothing to indicate what happens then - is the name 
to be emended, or declared unavailable, or what? (The absence of any 
such statement is one line of evidence that conformity is not required) 
As such, there are frequent arguments when one author attempts to "fix" 
a broken epithet published by another author, citing this Article for 
"justification". It really does *not* seem to be required by the ICZN, 
ever, but it can be hard to convince people of this.


Doug Yanega      Dept. of Entomology       Entomology Research Museum
Univ. of California, Riverside, CA 92521-0314     skype: dyanega
phone: (951) 827-4315 (disclaimer: opinions are mine, not UCR's)
   "There are some enterprises in which a careful disorderliness
         is the true method" - Herman Melville, Moby Dick, Chap. 82

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