[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 23:18:59 CDT 2016


Hi again Daniel,

OK, your example is ... somewhere between on and off-topic! You say that surely we want to limit the number of sources of nomina dubia. Actually, I think we only want to limit the number of nomina dubia, regardless of the source. The best way to do that is by promoting good taxonomy, whatever method is used. We should promote highly diagnostic photos over poorly diagnostic photos, etc.

You say: "...the fact that at some point a holotype ostensibly existed but is now lost is for all practical purposes indistinguishable from the case where the photographed specimen that would (ideally) have become the holotype and been deposited in a museum is released in the wild (and is presumably lost)"

I say: No, not if the photo(s) is a good one (i.e. a diagnostic one). Same with an hand drawing or a verbal description. These two are also both useless if they are not diagnostic and the holotype is lost! So, maybe photos are a red herring in this discussion? What we really should be discussing is whether new species can be described, by whatever method(s), without deposition of a holotype specimen. It is easy to jump quickly to a negative answer, but wait! It is quite possible for a holotype specimen to be not diagnostic, and it could be damaged, lost or destroyed at any stage after publication. Then we are in the same predicament. In some cases, a diagnostic photo would be much better than a non-diagnostic holotype specimen. So, why put a blanket ban on photos as proxies for specimens??

As I said, this issue is well deserving of discussion and debate, but not by way of Code misrepresentations or by using the issue as an opportunity for, as Mike put it, "bashing amateurs"!

Cheers,

Stephen

--------------------------------------------
On Wed, 11/5/16, Daniel Leo Gustafsson <kotatsu.no.leo at gmail.com> wrote:

 Subject: Re: [Taxacom] I'm furious over article: On typeless species and the perils of fast taxonomy
 To: "Stephen Thorpe" <stephen_thorpe at yahoo.co.nz>
 Cc: "JF Mate" <aphodiinaemate at gmail.com>, "Taxacom" <taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu>
 Received: Wednesday, 11 May, 2016, 3:56 PM
 
 It is conflating two issues only to
 an extent. From my viewpoint, arriving at this collection
 about 50 years after the name was published, the fact that
 at some point a holotype ostensibly existed but is now lost
 is for all practical purposes indistinguishable from the
 case where the photographed specimen that would (ideally)
 have become the holotype and been deposited in a museum is
 released in the wild (and is presumably lost). I still have
 no way to get more data than what was in the original
 publication, regardless of what the code actually says. The
 quality of the photo is largely beside the point; the
 relevant part is that I have no way to evaluate, in the
 light of 50 years of more data and more species in the genus
 being described, whether the original author was justified
 in establishing a new species name for his specimen, or if
 later authors who suggested that this species was already
 named were correct. 
 
 Certainly nomina dubia arise from very many
 different sources, however I would generally think it
 prudent to try to limit these sources when possible. Whether
 there will be an upsurge or not is also largely irrelevant,
 as the cases that do arise will accumulate at some rate,
 regardless of how small that rate is. Like in the case with
 chewing lice, it creates a lot of unnecessary work for later
 taxonomists -- whether professional or amateur -- for no
 compensating gain. 
 
 Cheers,
 Daniel



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