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

Doug Yanega dyanega at ucr.edu
Thu May 12 18:47:10 CDT 2016

On 5/12/16 4:05 PM, JF Mate wrote:
> I just canĀ“t understand how the type
> specimen (which often times is the only specimen of a species) is not
> valuable.
It's not that a specimen isn't valuable, but that - *when there is other 
information available* - it isn't literally essential. As others 
including Stephen have noted, a compression fossil is functionally no 
different from a digital image (2-dimensional, no DNA, hard to see all 
necessary details), and yet the field of paleontology *relies upon 
compression fossils* (which are pretty clearly inferior to digital 
images), and I don't see anyone complaining about how their types are 
unsuitable for the practice of good science, and advocating that we 
ignore all the compression fossil taxa that have been described because 
their types are 2-dimensional mineral representations, rather than 
actual biological specimens.

You use what you have available. If that means not having a type 
specimen, then the Code allows for it, the taxonomic community has lots 
of practice dealing with it, and - until just recently - no one ever 
complained about it. Species with no actual type specimens number in the 
tens of thousands; thinking compression fossils are okay, and digital 
images not, is obviously a double standard. Could it be because many of 
the people complaining are accustomed to having DNA to work with? If so, 
then that's setting the bar selfishly, rather than advocating a standard 
applicable to *all* taxonomists.


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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