[Taxacom] I'm furious over article: On typeless species and the perils of fast taxonomy

Stephen Thorpe stephen_thorpe at yahoo.co.nz
Tue May 10 22:09:21 CDT 2016

Jason, the same can be said for many fossils. Indeed I believe that a rock fossil which was described as a new taxon of centipede turned out to be a piece of fern! I think that we need to be careful here. Nobody is advocating the willy nilly description of new taxa from photos, but in some cases where the species has distinctive external morphology and no specimens are to hand, or likely to be at hand in the near future, then it should be OK to describe as new from photo alone. I wouldn't suggest doing it with an aphodiine scarab, but some other insects may be OK. It actually does depend a lot on expert familiarity with the group concerned to make that call. The fact that other, "less experty" people might make bad calls should not necessarily kill the idea. Such people can already be active in taxonomy, without the need for photos.


On Wed, 11/5/16, JF Mate <aphodiinaemate at gmail.com> wrote:

 Subject: Re: [Taxacom] I'm furious over article: On typeless species and the perils of fast taxonomy
 To: "Taxacom" <taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu>
 Received: Wednesday, 11 May, 2016, 2:36 PM
 Although I agree with some of Morphy
 et al´s  sentiments regarding
 potential issues of typeless nomenclature, as an amateur
 I don´t feel particularly threatened by their suggestions
 (naive as
 they may be). And if, as Doug has mentioned, the authors
 have been
 contacted and the ICZN or members therein intend to submit a
 to the journal, then the discourse can only help to clarify
 the issue
 and interpretation of the code to a wider audience. I can´t
 see this
 as anything but good banter. Am I missing something?
 In regards to the topic of typeless descriptions, and since
 we are
 taking sides, if we strip away the emotional side of what
 real intentions may or may not be (discourse for
 psychologists) I
 personally find that a picture, albeit a form of evidence,
 is not
 direct evidence (i.e. it is not part of the type but an
 of it, digital in this case). Being indirect it is not just
 biased but
 also crystallized as it limits potential future
 methods. So although it may be allowed as a type it is not a
 useful one other than meeting the minimum criterion for
 On 11 May 2016 at 09:39, Stephen Thorpe <stephen_thorpe at yahoo.co.nz>
 > Mike,
 > Language is difficult to make clear at the best of
 times. I'm still not sure what you mean, but I certainly
 think that the Swiss authors (and probably also the
 Brazilians) want to keep amateurs out of taxonomy. Have you
 read the article in BZN? [Quote]Publications such as those
 of Marshall & Evenhuis (2015) or Minteer et al. (2014)
 may also stimulate non-experts to describe new species based
 on photographed specimens[unquote] While "amateur" and
 "non-expert" are not exactly the same thing, I think that
 the intended meaning is clear enough. By the way, Broun was
 never employed as a taxonomist per se. That he did in his
 own time. Being "government entomologist", for a short
 while, involved other duties. See: http://www.teara.govt.nz/en/biographies/3b52/broun-thomas
 > Cheers,
 > Stephen
 > --------------------------------------------
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