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

Daniel Leo Gustafsson kotatsu.no.leo at gmail.com
Tue May 10 22:15:12 CDT 2016

In chewing lice there are several examples of species being described
extremely poorly but with a photo of the holotype. In some cases, the
author of these species, when it was suggested that his species were
actually synonyms of already known species, but perhaps aberrant
(teratological) specimens, seems to have simply thrown away the specimen
but kept the slide with the ID number and everything on it. I spent way too
much time trying to find what was supposed to be the holotype on the slide
that was referred to in the original manuscript, and which had the name of
this purported species written on it (the only one in his collection),
before giving up and coming to the conclusion that he probably just
destroyed the specimen and transferred all the data to a new slide. He may
or may not have done that with species he described with illustrations as
well, but his collection is largely a mess, and parts of it has been
distributed to other collections without any known paper trail.

>From the downstream position of having to deal with species that are
essentially known only from photos, I cannot see any positive benefit from
a taxonomical point of view to allow new species to be described without at
least one specimen.


On Tue, May 10, 2016 at 8:36 PM, JF Mate <aphodiinaemate at gmail.com> wrote:

> Although I agree with some of Morphy et al´s  sentiments regarding
> potential issues of typeless nomenclature, as an amateur entomologist
> 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 comment
> 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 people´s
> 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 interpetration
> of it, digital in this case). Being indirect it is not just biased but
> also crystallized as it limits potential future data-acquisition
> methods. So although it may be allowed as a type it is not a very
> useful one other than meeting the minimum criterion for publication.
> Best
> On 11 May 2016 at 09:39, Stephen Thorpe <stephen_thorpe at yahoo.co.nz>
> wrote:
> > 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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