[Taxacom] manuscript name question

John Grehan calabar.john at gmail.com
Thu Oct 8 21:56:36 CDT 2015


Stephen,

I don't think anyone is guilty of 'knee jerk' reactions. I think everyone,
including yourself, is genuinely trying to articulate their various points
of view as best or as precisely as they can. I have found all points of
view, and responses, of interest.

John Grehan

On Thu, Oct 8, 2015 at 10:43 PM, Stephen Thorpe <stephen_thorpe at yahoo.co.nz>
wrote:

> I really hate the way that distinct issues are being conflated on this
> matter! The essence of the matter has nothing to do with photographs, but
> with preservation of primary types. Can you describe a new species without
> preservation of the (designated) primary type? Whether you include a photo,
> or a drawing, or just provide written description is not the issue. But
> there are two distinct scenarios: (1) your description is based on
> examination of the primary type, which is then discarded; or (2) you only
> know the primary type by way of a photo. In this case (the fly), we have
> scenario (2). Sure, just having a photo is nowhere near as good as having a
> whole specimen, but then having a fossil is nowhere near as good as having
> a freshly killed specimen. So, given a choice, one would prefer to have a
> freshly killed specimen, and one would prefer to preserve it indefinitely.
> But, if you only have a fossil, or only have a photo, and you have at most
> only a slim
>  chance of ever getting hold of a freshly killed specimen, then it makes
> sense to make the most of what one does have. Hence, species are described
> based on fossil impressions in rock, cloudy amber inclusions, etc. So why
> not a photograph of a living specimen? Whether Marshall & Evenhuis should
> have waited to see if new material could be obtained is a moot point. There
> may not have been any real need to describe this fly now, except to feed
> the fires of Pensoft's desire for publicity. But these are all distinct
> issues to be weighed up and thought about. Knee jerk reactions against
> describing new species from photos really isn't helpful.
>
> Stephen
>
> --------------------------------------------
> On Fri, 9/10/15, JF Mate <aphodiinaemate at gmail.com> wrote:
>
>  Subject: Re: [Taxacom] manuscript name question
>  To: "Taxacom" <taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu>
>  Received: Friday, 9 October, 2015, 3:00 PM
>
>  Dean:
>
>  “There seems to be a negative reaction to the term "dead
>  bodies" for animals
>  that are preserved in museum collection. I find that
>  curious.”
>
>  I have never seen this term used in journals, which makes me
>  suspect
>  it was used as click-bait. It is not a direct way to explain
>  things to
>  “non-native” speakers, it is a catchy title plonked
>  there in the hopes
>  that BBC or CNN will report the paper (as they sometimes
>  do). But
>  publicity in a matter like this could have unintended
>  consequences. It
>  is already hard enough collecting “dead bodies”, imagine
>  if you give
>  them (PETA, WWF, any bureaucratic body,...) ammo through
>  scientific
>  legitimacy.
>
>  “As to whether it's worth putting a name to a
>  distinctively new species,
>  isn't that rather the whole point of nomenclature?”
>
>  You misunderstand me Dean. The point I am trying to make is
>  that, if a
>  particular species is doomed, keeping a couple of pictures
>  is pretty
>  much useless other than serving to name something.
>  Nomenclature is
>  important because it is the bedrock of something (biology,
>  ecology,
>  etc). Otherwise it is just a rock, a list of names (and you
>  wouldn´t
>  even be certain that the list is correct nor have the means
>  to check).
>  And physcial specimena or, lacking that, tissue samples,
>  contain the
>  information that gives “value” to the name.
>
>  With a physical specimen I can not only verify the original
>  hypothesis
>  in the future, but also access a large amount of
>  information
>  pertaining to the species itself (biology, phylogenetics,
>  feeding,
>  etc). With a photograph I only have pixels, and they will be
>  the same
>  pixels forever.Its value as a store of information
>  diminishes with the
>  passage of time whereas physical specimens become more
>  valuable (DNA,
>  X- ray microtomography are just two recent examples I can
>  think of).
>  Photographs should be, IMO, a last resort when faced with no
>  other
>  choice, and to me this fly isn´t such a case. Fast and
>  loose is a
>  slippery slope to aliens and Nessie.
>
>  Best
>
>  Jason
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