[Taxacom] ICZN loophole? - no originally included species

Francisco Welter-Schultes fwelter at gwdg.de
Mon Jul 28 17:41:56 CDT 2014

In the GBIF Guide (2012) I wrote the following about this problem:

If no species was originally included, it is commonly accepted (but not
explicitly ruled in the Code) that the generic name can only be used for a
group of species that is in accordance with the original description or
Garsault 1764 established a mammalian generic name Leo without included
species, and based it only on a figure of a male lion. Only a specific
name established for the lion (Felis leo Linnæus 1758 or one of its
synonyms) can be selected as type species for Leo Garsault 1764.

"Guidelines for the capture and management of digital zoological names
information", this is this document: http://www.gbif.org/orc/?doc_id=2784

You are probably correct that you could include any species to such a
genus, species that would not match the original concept, but it could be
predicted that your act would not become commonly accepted.

My recommendation is that no species should be included until a taxonomist
actually works with this group taxonomically, and decides to do it.


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

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