[Taxacom] New article in Zootaxa adding to reptile name instability (Scott Thomson up to his old tricks!)

Stephen Thorpe stephen_thorpe at yahoo.co.nz
Mon Jan 4 19:08:50 CST 2016

Oh dear, the first issue of Zootaxa for 2016 has not gotten off to the best of starts! Thomson & Georges (http://www.mapress.com/j/zt/article/view/zootaxa.4061.1.2) have named as new a species of turtle which was already described by Richard Wells in 2002 (http://zoobank.org/NomenclaturalActs/5032E8B8-380E-4C7F-A0DF-C3A99126BA44). Worse, they have used a different name, thereby deliberately adding to nomenclatural instability! In a footnote (p. 19), they dismiss Wells' name thus: [quote]Documents privately printed and circulated under the banner Australian Biodiversity Record are not recognised as scientific publications or as publications for the purposes of nomenclature. The name jukesi used in such a document is not regarded here as an available name. See also Fritz, U. and Havaš, P. 2007. Checklist of chelonians of the world. Vertebrate Zoology 57(2):149–368, page 162.[unquote]

This is self-evidently not true! The Code makes no such ban against "documents privately printed and circulated", and saying it don't make it so!

It refects very badly on a publisher, particularly one whose chief editor is also an ICZN commissioner, to publish material like this whereby a taxonomist merely castes aside a previous name for a taxon, citing a nonexistent Code provision! As far as I know, there is nothing to suggest that an initial print run of Wells (2002) was not made available in accordance with the Code, as is clearly stated here: http://www.calodema.com/freefiles/wells/AUSTRALIANBIODIVERSITYRECORD2002%282%29.pdf

The Fritz and Havas reference states: [quote]the worst case represent online-publications in a journal fake named Australian Biodiversity Record (Wells 2002a, b, 2007a, b, c). These online-publications do not consitute published works according to Articles 8.6 and 9.7 of the International Code of Zoological Nomenclature (ICZN 1999), which is why none of the names or nomenclatural acts published therein exists under the rules of the Code[unquote]

Interestingly, both Arts. 8.6 and 9.7 have been amended on the current Code Online, making it less clear if they still apply to this case, and even if they do, Fritz and Havas's unsupported claims contradict the information provided by the publisher (http://www.calodema.com/freefiles/wells/AUSTRALIANBIODIVERSITYRECORD2002%282%29.pdf).

At the very least, Thomson & Georges should have given the darn taxon the same darn name as it already had, thus not adding to instability, and taxonomists could then just argue ad nauseam over who has authorship of that name. But instead we have selfish people battling each other with little or no regard for the affect it has on others who might simply want a stable name for a species.


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