[Taxacom] I'm furious over article: On typeless species and the perils of fast taxonomy
stephen_thorpe at yahoo.co.nz
Fri May 13 16:49:53 CDT 2016
The only problem with your suggestion is one of practical application. Firstly, it may be difficult/impossible to know for sure if some evidence has been fabricated; and (2) we don't want to provide another opportunity for unscrupulous taxonomists to ignore the taxonomy of their rivals, by way of claiming fabrication when there is none.
On Fri, 13/5/16, Cristian Ruiz Altaba <cruizaltaba at dgcc.caib.es> wrote:
Subject: Re: [Taxacom] I'm furious over article: On typeless species and the perils of fast taxonomy
To: deepreef at bishopmuseum.org
Cc: "'JF Mate'" <aphodiinaemate at gmail.com>, deepreef at bishopmuseum.org, "'Stephen Thorpe'" <stephen_thorpe at yahoo.co.nz>, "'Taxacom'" <taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu>
Received: Friday, 13 May, 2016, 8:55 PM
May I propose a solution.
The bottomline is whether the type
is available for further study. That is, whether
we retain a part of the specimen itself, or just a
representation of it.
A bird skin versus a photograph in the
wild would be a simple dichotomy. In reality, the boundary
is fuzzy. How realistic is a SEM image of a type specimen?
Surely it depends on preparation, angle, etc. --especially
if the actual specimen came out half-fried. A specimen that
was overcleaned and subject to fancy coiffure in order to
get an enhanced picture, how much of its original character
does it retain? Does a tissue sample remain hard evidence
once homogenized, or even as only a DNA extract, or just a
band in an agarose gel that gets photographed?
The Code accepts a footprint as type
material, I guess. Ichnotaxa are explicitly included. But
there is no limit to the age of that trace fossil. It may be
a Cambrian ichnofossil, or a dried-muck footprint. How
different is this (ontologically I mean) from the imprint
left on a silver plate, a plastic film or a light sensor?
It's a matter of tradition only. We accept older
concepts, but are reluctant to expand the range of
"imprint taxa". Fine. Thus we speak of the actual
specimen as the type, not its image.
In doing so, however, we implicitly asume
that we trust the representation. And this unavoidably
includes all photographs, drawings, scans and whatever. This
implies that the quarrel by Santos et al against
photographic evidence is simply both unsubstantiated and
In essence, when we accept a fossil or a
photograph we are just saying that we apply the Golden Rule
that bounds science together. When you say you have found a
new ape species, I will accept all of your evidence. We
might argue about its interpretation, or even about methods,
but I am not casting any doubts upon your scholarship in
showing your data. The issue then is how to deal with cases
blatantly breaching such trust.
Article 1.3.1 explicitly excludes
hypothetical concepts. It can be interpreted as forbidding
data manipulation. Such as photoshop playgrounds, so any
image that is not accurate and unmanipulated (i.e., only
retouched within bona fide limits) should be outside the
Code's scope. I think that is clear now, but obvioulsy a
fair number of (dipterist) colleagues fail to understand.
Thus, maybe a clarification or recommendation in this
sense would be useful as an addition to this article.
Excluded from the provisions of the Code are names
This includes fabricated evidence stemming from inaccurate
or excessive manipulation of actual specimens or any kind of
representation of them.
All the best,
EvoCog, University of the
<taxacom-bounces at mailman.nhm.ku.edu> ha escrit:
Per a: "'Stephen Thorpe'"
<stephen_thorpe at yahoo.co.nz>, "'JF
Mate'" <aphodiinaemate at gmail.com>,
<taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu>,
<deepreef at bishopmuseum.org>
De: "Richard Pyle"
Data: 13/05/2016 06:49AM
Assumpte: Re: [Taxacom] I'm furious over
article: On typeless species and the perils of fast
... now you are confusing me, Rich!
If I am, then I apologize.
> In the case of
Marleyimyia xylocopae, a photo was used as a proxy for the
> specimen, not in any "technical sense", or
Code defined sense, but in everyday
> parlance. People may be misunderstanding the situation
and thinking either
the photo is the type (but it isn't according to Art.
73.1.4); or, more likely
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.
Exactly. Thanks for helping to clarify
this point, which seems to have been lost on some.
> 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
> diagnostically useless types and would prevent cases
> 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.
Thanks! This is exactly the sort of
commentary I was hoping to see on this topic, and which I
believe will be helpful to the Commission in guiding their
decisions on this issue.
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