[Taxacom] ICZN loophole? - no originally included species

David Campbell pleuronaia at gmail.com
Mon Jul 28 17:24:17 CDT 2014

In reviewing available names for a particular family, I find a couple of
genera from the early 1800's that are validly proposed, but have no validly
included species.  Thus, whatever valid species is first included will
define the genus.  The genera have brief descriptions and include nude
species.  I am pondering whether specifying a type species will be useful
to stabilize nomenclature.  The difficulty is that the names are early
enough that they would displace almost any name in use for species likely
to be originally intended.  Thus, for stability these genera would only be
useful to validate in the context of recognizing a genus-level taxon not in
current use.

However, if I were to disregard recommendations about stability, my
reputation as a taxonomist, etc., there doesn't seem to be anything legally
preventing me from causing trouble by selecting any animal (s.l.) I like
and making it the type.  Legal type designations do not have to conform to
the type description.  I think this is a good idea, to avoid arguments over
how well a given species fits the original genus description.    But it
does seem unreasonable to be able to use something with no resemblance
whatsoever to the original description.  For example, probably no one would
be happy if I took a genus originally intended for a snail and tried to use
it to pre-empt Drosophila or Tyrannosaurus.  No doubt the name would get
suppressed if an attempt like that were made, but it would be a nuisance in
the meantime.

Dr. David Campbell
Assistant Professor, Geology
Department of Natural Sciences
Box 7270
Gardner-Webb University
Boiling Springs NC 28017

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