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

Stephen Thorpe stephen_thorpe at yahoo.co.nz
Thu May 12 23:14:13 CDT 2016

AArrrgghh ... now you are confusing me, Rich!

In the case of Marleyimyia xylocopae, a photo was used as a proxy for the type specimen, not in any "technical sense", or Code defined sense, but in everyday parlance. People may be misunderstanding the situation and thinking either that:

(1) the photo is the type (but it isn't according to Art. 73.1.4); or, more likely that

(2) there is no type. But there is a type specimen, it just isn't preserved, and we only know it via the photo). This is currently not disallowed by the Code.

Anyway, as you said the real issue is whether there ought to be a requirement in the Code for types to be preserved in some way. This would disallow future cases like Marleyimyia xylocopae. My opinion is no, there should not be such a requirement. My reasons are that the requirement can be met by diagnostically useless types and would prevent cases like Marleyimyia xylocopae, which are arguably cases of good worthwhile taxonomy. Of course we want to avoid diagnostically useless photos, but no more so than we want to avoid diagnostically useless preserved specimens. I can't see any way in which the Code could place requirements on how diagnostic a specimen must be in order to count as a type, so we just have to promote good taxonomy, regardless of method, and hope that nobody would be silly enough to describe from photo only if they did have a good diagnostic specimen at hand to be the type.


On Fri, 13/5/16, Richard Pyle <deepreef at bishopmuseum.org> 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>, "'JF Mate'" <aphodiinaemate at gmail.com>, "'Taxacom'" <taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu>
 Received: Friday, 13 May, 2016, 3:44 PM
 Hi Stephen,
 As I said, I know you know that -- I wanted to avoid
 furthering misunderstanding of the Code if people
 misinterpreted your point.
 > A good diagnostic photo is only already disallowed to
 actually *be* a type, it is
 > not disallowed to *be a proxy* for the type, which is
 exactly what Evenhuis &
 > Marshall did. This rather subtle difference is likely
 to be a source of confusion.
 Technically, it's not a "proxy" for the type.  The type
 is the type, plain and simple.  You can still establish
 a new species name without any photo, or any "proxy" at
 all.  The Code has no rules concerning "proxies". 
 The two relevant articles are:
 16.4 requires fixation of a type in the original
 publication, and if that type is an "extant specimen", the
 publication must include "a statement of intent that they
 will be (or are) deposited in a collection and a statement
 indicating the name and location of that collection". 
 73.1.4. clarifies that the designation of an illustration of
 a single specimen as a holotype is to be treated as
 designation of the specimen illustrated.
 Some people interpret 73.1.4 as being "you must have at
 least an illustration of the type to designate it as such",
 but that seems to me a distortion of this Article.  All
 it says is that when an illustration is so-designated, the
 designation applies to the illustrated specimen, not the
 image (unlike the case of iconotypes under ICNafp).  I
 am not aware of any requirements in the Code that prevent
 the designation of a types with neither a preserved
 specimen, nor an image.

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