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

JF Mate aphodiinaemate at gmail.com
Sat May 14 19:31:47 CDT 2016

Just to clarify. In my post 4 days ago I wrote to Stephen "Not a ban,
more like an overt show of displeasure." In other words, not changing
the code or banning (Stephen´s bugbear) but at least a small
ackonowledgement that this is pushing it. Notwithstanding the example
of compression fossils (which I would argue is part and parcel of
paleontology unlike photos in entomology) I think that a
recommendation to the effect that photographs alone are far from
desirable would not go amiss. This has nothing to do with me working
also with molecular markers, as I have also a rather big bone with

On good vs bad taxonomy:
Cristian " chivalry among scholars and making sure no vandals are allowed."
Stephen "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."

How do you promote/allow good taxonomists vs bad I ask? We can´t even
ask obviously bad herpetologists to behave, or dodgy "journals" to not
circumvent the Code´s unavoidable loopholes and publish descriptions
which are even worse than just pictures. I thought one way would
simply be to say "I can´t ban it but I wouldn´t just publish based on
a picture" but that is also out in the name of a warped sense of
freedom so I guess we will just have to trust that the good apples
outnumber the bad and are willing to clean up mistakes (and are not
interested in phylogenetics).

In regards to "Why should a preserved specimen be required in all
cases, when (1) the specimen may be diagnostically poor or even
useless; and (2) in cases, say, where there is no specimen but only a
photo, the photo may be diagnostically sufficient for a good
description? "

How do you know this a priori? Type material may now diagnostically
useless because we have some much stuff accessible to compare, vs a
few decades ago. What would have been a distinct species then may be
part of a cryptic group now or maybe it was a female as you say (I
have dealt with a lot of those so I am familiar with the feeling).
This however is no evidence against physical types, rather the
opposite, that we need more sources of data tied to the type.


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