[Taxacom] Homo sapiens

Richard Pyle deepreef at bishopmuseum.org
Fri Jan 15 02:02:46 CST 2016

Hi Doug,


Well, that depends.  My read of 73.1.2 is that evidence outside the original work may be used to “help IDENTIFY the specimen”, but that doesn’t contradict the fact that the original work itself must either state or imply that the nominal species-group taxon is based on a single specimen. As Linnaeus 1758 does neither, there is no need to “identify” a stated or implied single specimen that represents a holotype by monotypy.  Now, even if we assume that the second sentence of Art. 73.1.2 contradicts the first sentence, in that it allows for evidence outside the original publication to IMPLY (can’t really “state”) that H. sapiens sapiens represents a taxon based on a single specimen, we still would need to find some evidence that Linneaus based that nominal species-group name on a single specimen.  Evidence to the contrary would be much easier to find (e.g., if the original description includes characters not represented in Linnaeus himself). So either way – even with an unrealistically liberal interpretation of Art 73.1.2 – I see no way to establish a holotype by monotypy.


That said, I agree this is little more than an intellectual game from which Code-nerds like ourselves derive pleasure in playing. 


In any case, it seems your original premise is likely correct after all. Have we received input from five Commissioners yet? :-)






From: Doug Yanega [mailto:dyanega at ucr.edu] 
Sent: Thursday, January 14, 2016 9:21 AM
To: deepreef at bishopmuseum.org; taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu
Subject: Re: [Taxacom] Homo sapiens


On 1/14/16 10:36 AM, Richard Pyle wrote:

Hi Doug,
One issue with your interpretation that Linnaeus can serve as the Holotype: Holotypes must be designated within the original work (Art. 73.1.3). Linneaus neither stated nor implied in the original publication that the species-group taxon is based on a single specimen, so we cannot retroactively infer him as the holotype by monotypy (Art. 73.1.2).  The "ANY EVIDENCE" (your emphasis) component of Art. can only be used in the context of name-bearing types fixed subsequently. 

Actually, that's not true: 73.1.2 explicitly cross-references and says that external evidence CAN be used to subsequently identify the holotype:

" 73.1.2. If the nominal species-group taxon is based on a single specimen, either so stated or implied in the original publication, that specimen is the holotype fixed by monotypy (see Recommendation 73F <http://www.nhm.ac.uk/hosted-sites/iczn/code/includes/page.jsp?nfv=&article=73#rec73F> ). If the taxon was established before 2000 evidence derived from outside the work itself may be taken into account [Art. <http://www.nhm.ac.uk/hosted-sites/iczn/code/includes/page.jsp?nfv=&article=72#4.1.1> ] to help identify the specimen."

I was applying the "holotype by implicit monotypy" argument in this case, as you note, and I read this Article as supporting that interpretation. Like I said, if you can't positively identify any syntypes, and none were mentioned, then it IS implied (to me) that the species was based on one specimen, which therefore is the holotype by default under 73.1.2. Mike Ivie objects to the fact that Linnaeus' physical corpus is effectively lost, but since we can't legally designate a neotype, that's irrelevant - lots of species have lost types that can't be replaced until and unless there comes to be a serious dispute about the taxon's identity.

How many syntypes can dance on the head of a pin? ;-)


Doug Yanega      Dept. of Entomology       Entomology Research Museum
Univ. of California, Riverside, CA 92521-0314     skype: dyanega
phone: (951) 827-4315 (disclaimer: opinions are mine, not UCR's)
  "There are some enterprises in which a careful disorderliness
        is the true method" - Herman Melville, Moby Dick, Chap. 82

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