[Taxacom] manuscript name question

Richard Pyle deepreef at bishopmuseum.org
Sat Oct 10 17:12:55 CDT 2015

Hi Stephen,

I disagree. Art. 16.4.2. says that species-group names published after 1999
must have an explicit fixation of the name-bearing type(s), that includes a
statement of the name and location of the collection where the type(s) will
be deposited "where the holotype or syntypes are extant specimens".  The
Code Glossary defines "extant" in the context of specimens as "still in
existence", which I think most of us interpret as meaning some physical
manifestation of an organism that is substantially more cohesive than
dissociated molecules.  That is, a specimen that is either still alive, or
collected and preserved in a museum, or otherwise still somehow intact (as
opposed to an organism that has long-since disintegrated).  While it's
technically true that the organism depicted in the illustration that was
designated as the name-bearing type might have somehow escaped decay (still
alive, collected and preserved, embalmed in amber, whatever...), if you hold
the "technicality bar" of the Code to this high of a standard, then almost
EVERY Article breaks down into ambiguity (i.e., now we're talking in the
realm of how nothing in the universe is ultimately unambiguous).

So, while it's fun to argue that a the organism depicted in the illustration
might have been collected and preserved unbeknownst to the authors, or that
it happened to be engulfed in amber when it died, or that a stiff wind blew
it up to the north pole where it became frozen in a block of ice (etc.),
such arguments don't really help us in this discussion, because they fall
way outside the reasonable scope of probability.

A much bigger problem (MUCH bigger problem!) with Code compliance is that
people simply fail to indicate the name and location of the collection where
the holotype/syntypes is/are intended to be deposited, even when it's clear
that the specimens were collected and preserved and are almost certainly
known to be "extant" by the authors.  It's often clear in the publication
itself that a specimen was in-hand, and preserved, and is almost certainly
still extant, but through oversight/unawareness of the requirements, the
name and location of the intended collection are not included within the

Rather than fret about this (so-far) non-problem of descriptions based on
"non-extant" specimens, we should instead focus our collective energies
towards: 1) making more taxonomists and would-be taxonomists aware of the
requirements of the Code; and 2) discussing ways in which the NEXT edition
of the Code will make it less confusing to establish new names in
compliance, so taxonomists can focus more of their time doing taxonomy,
instead of nomenclature.


> -----Original Message-----
> From: Stephen Thorpe [mailto:stephen_thorpe at yahoo.co.nz]
> Sent: Saturday, October 10, 2015 10:59 AM
> To: gread at actrix.gen.nz; Taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu;
> deepreef at bishopmuseum.org
> Cc: neale at bishopmuseum.org
> Subject: Re: [Taxacom] manuscript name question
> Actually Rich, the nomenclatural weak point of what Steve & Neal have done
> with this fly is to interpret the Code in such a way that the holotype
isn't an
> "extant specimen". That could be disputed, based on the EXACT possible
> meanings of those words, but even if we grant them their preferred
> interpretation, consider this: they don't really know the fate of that
> fly after it was photographed. Maybe someone collected it! Maybe it has
> been accessioned into a museum collection. If the accession date can be
> shown to be before the publication date of the description, then "we have
> problem Houston!" That would mean that it was an extant specimen at the
> time the description was published, so Steve and Neal needed to make a
> statement of deposition of the holotype in order for the new name to be
> available! An unlikely, but possible scenario!
> Cheers, Stephen
> --------------------------------------------
> On Sun, 11/10/15, Richard Pyle <deepreef at bishopmuseum.org> wrote:
>  Subject: Re: [Taxacom] manuscript name question
>  To: gread at actrix.gen.nz, Taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu
>  Received: Sunday, 11 October, 2015, 6:22 AM
>  OK, as the originator of the
>  "unambiguous" quote, I feel compelled to reply.  Let me  rephrase my
> original comment as:
>  "The description of M. xylocopae is about a unambiguously  compliant with
> the Code as any description of a new taxon  can be."
>  Nothing in the Code is absolutely unambiguous ... in the  sense that
> in the universe is absolutely  unambiguous.
>  I read Markus Moser's letter, and as impassioned as the  argument is, it
> contrary to what is actually written in  the Code.  The way the Code is
> written, sub-articles  inherit the context of their parent articles.  The
> article for Art. 73.1.4 is Art. 73.1, which reads:
>  "Holotypes. A holotype is the single specimen upon which a  new nominal
> species-group taxon is based in the original  publication".   The phrase
"in the
> original  publication" is about as unambiguous as the Code gets.  If the
> provisions of Art 73.1.4 were intended to apply to  subsequent type
> designations, it would have been in a  section dealing with Neotypes and
> Lectotypes; not  Holotypes.
>  So ... use of 73.1.4 in the description of  M.
>  xylocopae is in no way a distortion of the intent of the  Article.
>  Whether or not this article is "relevant" to this species  (per Stephen's
> comment) is open to debate, but I do see his  point.  However, I still
think it is
> relevant; although  Art. 72.5.6 is probably more directly relevant.
>  Aloha,
>  Rich
>  > -----Original Message-----
>  > From: Taxacom [mailto:taxacom-bounces at mailman.nhm.ku.edu]
>  On Behalf
>  > Of Geoff Read
>  > Sent: Friday, October 09, 2015 5:55 PM  > To:
> Taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu  > Subject: Re: [Taxacom] manuscript name
> question  >  >  > Hi,  >  > Although there is clearly a group who believe
> the  fly photo description  > "was unambiguously Code-compliant" under the
> current  code, this is not  > correct.
>  >
>  > Read again Markus Moser's eletter "Holotypic ink" in  Science from 2005
> > response to a comment and response about the Mangabey  monkey
> picture,  > under the doi http://dx.doi.org/10.1126/science.309.5744.2163c
>  >
>  >
> http://www.sciencemag.org/content/309/5744/2163.3/reply#sci_el_2652?s
>  > id=deb7fe6e-5527-45a6-b6f7-af1120d2750c
>  >
>  > Use of 73.1.4 for new taxa is a distortion of the  article's intention
> "...
>  > clearly refers to established species of which the  types got lost
> or  > are missing"
>  >
>  > --
>  > Geoffrey B. Read, Ph.D.
>  > Wellington, NEW ZEALAND
>  > gread at actrix.gen.nz
>  >
>  > _______________________________________________
>  > Taxacom Mailing List
>  > Taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu
>  > http://mailman.nhm.ku.edu/cgi-bin/mailman/listinfo/taxacom
>  > The Taxacom Archive back to 1992 may be searched at:
>  > http://taxacom.markmail.org
>  >
>  > Celebrating 28 years of Taxacom in 2015.
>  _______________________________________________
>  Taxacom Mailing List
>  Taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu
>  http://mailman.nhm.ku.edu/cgi-bin/mailman/listinfo/taxacom
>  The Taxacom Archive back to 1992 may be searched at:
> http://taxacom.markmail.org
>  Celebrating 28 years of Taxacom in 2015.

More information about the Taxacom mailing list