[Taxacom] manuscript name question

Stephen Thorpe stephen_thorpe at yahoo.co.nz
Sat Oct 10 19:07:07 CDT 2015

As I said, these "mights" are of negligible concern, so, once again, let me state that I don't see it as problematic. It was merely a useful exercise in trying to interpret how the Code applies to cases like this, which is not an easy task! Mike may interject here and claim it to be all utterly straightforward! To be absolutely clear, I think that Steve & Neal's fly must be considered to be, if not unambiguously Code compliant, then not provably noncompliant, so it must stand.


PS: I do still wonder where that holotype is now! :)

On Sun, 11/10/15, Richard Pyle <deepreef at bishopmuseum.org> wrote:

 Subject: RE: [Taxacom] manuscript name question
 To: "'Stephen Thorpe'" <stephen_thorpe at yahoo.co.nz>, gread at actrix.gen.nz, Taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu
 Cc: neale at bishopmuseum.org
 Received: Sunday, 11 October, 2015, 12:57 PM
 Yes, it "might"
 have still been alive when the article was published. 
 it "might" have been collected
 by someone else. And it "might" have been
 entombed in amber. And it "might"
 have been blown to the north pole and
 in ice. And it "might" have been acquired by an
 intelligent life-form
 visiting our solar system.  But all of these things
 are sufficiently implausible that a presumption
 of "non-extant" can be
 safely assumed.  Now, I'm not a fly expert, and I have
 no idea what
 the world record is for
 longest-living fly is; but a quick Google search
 suggests something in the range of 25-90
 days.  The beast designated as the
 was photographed (already as an adult) on 1 December 2014,
 at an
 elevation of only 74m in the middle of
 the southern summer in South Africa
 summer temperatures 87 - 90°F; meaning shorter lifespan of
 The article was published  5
 October of this year. While the possibility
 that the individual designated as the holotype
 lived for an additional 308
 days after it
 was photographed (again, already as an adult) might be
 than, say, the extraterrestrial
 abduction scenario; I think it's
 nevertheless safe to assume that the beast
 lived out a full fly-life and
 succumb to natural fly-death causes long before the paper
 found its
 way onto the web in published
 Again, while there
 may be an "unlucky and unlikely sequence of
 events" that
 could perhaps cause some
 confusion about the availability of the name
 (depending on how you want to interpret the
 phrase "still in existence" in
 Code glossary); is this really an effective use of our
 capacity as taxonomists to
 argue about?
 Rather than
 sniff through the Code for highly improbably
 "gotchas" to render
 unavailable on technicalities, shouldn't we instead be
 focused on how
 to craft the next edition of
 the Code to eliminate the more substantive
 issues we have to deal with on a regular basis?
 To be sure, the question of
 whether a
 physical type specimen should be required is certainly a
 legitimate point of discussion to have when
 crafting the next edition of the
 Code, and I
 think that is certainly worthy of further discussion.
 Reasonable minds will disagree, and that's
 -----Original Message-----
 > From:
 Stephen Thorpe [mailto:stephen_thorpe at yahoo.co.nz]
 > Sent: Saturday, October 10, 2015 12:51
 > 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
 > Hang on
 a minute Rich. Please re-read what you wrote! If you are
 going to
 > count "still alive"
 as an option for "extant specimen", then Steve
 Neal's fly
 might well have been still alive when they published the
 description, in
 case the name would be unavailable due to the lack of a
 statement of
 > holotype deposition for
 what you've just said is an "extant specimen"!
 > course, it might be impossible to
 prove/disprove that it was still alive
 > time, but all I'm saying is
 that there could be an unlucky and unlikely
 > sequence of events which could invalidate
 the name (e.g. someone captured
 > it
 after photography and kept it alive in a jar at home,
 photographing it
 day with a time stamp!). It is a risk, albeit a negligibly
 small one. I'm
 arguing against what Steve and Neal did, I'm just trying
 to figure out
 > any
 weak points are, and how weak they are. What I have
 described is the
 > only weak point, as
 far as I can see, so I don't think it  likely that
 > description
 will prove to be problematic at all. So, it is all good.
 > Stephen

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