[Taxacom] ICZN - gender of genus-group name ending in -oops

Scott Thomson scott.thomson321 at gmail.com
Mon May 23 00:50:59 CDT 2016

You know I do like the gender compliance etc, I understand exactly why
people do not wish to let go of it. I like the history of it, I like the
fact that we try to make these words we give species in the binomen be
grammatically correct. My own suggestion was not to do away with it but to
more suggest when to make these corrections, or specifically when not to.
As I said as a means to stop nomenclature looking petty in the eyes of

I do think however, as I said at the outset, we have to accept we are part
of a broader biological community. We do have to work with these other
users. We are greatly outnumbered also.

I agree that putting every name back to original spelling would be a
disaster, as it seems to have been for the Lepidopterans. After Frank
Krell's comment out of curiosity I did ask Michael Braby about this for
specifics as I was not familiar with the issues in Lepidopterans, clearly
what was done there was disastrous, and still being sorted out. The fact
that it was yet another issue in Australia prompted my interest too.

If gender agreement was removed (I am not suggesting it should be, just
commenting) I guess Michael Ivie's suggestion would be a more reasonable
path. There are some species in the reptilia that I know of that just seem
to keep flipping in their spelling since no one seems to agree on the
gender of the genus in question, the Mata mata (Chelus fimbriata) is one
example its flipped between fimbriata and fimbriatus 4 times since 1992.
This is because the original spelling of the genus name is Chelys, not
Chelus, its currently fimbriata again, we shall see how long that lasts.

Taxonomy has enough issues in the modern world without looking petty and
hence asking for criticism. After all the digital age has bought many
changes, even Australian's and British can now spell Color instead of
Colour all thanks to software, because <color> is syntax, whereas <colour>
will cause a syntax error in your code. We can adapt to change and
resisting it is not always the best thing to do.

Cheers, Scott

On Sun, May 22, 2016 at 11:23 PM, Ivie, Michael <mivie at montana.edu> wrote:

> David,
> The return to original combination is the solution adopted by the
> Lepidopterist community, it is not the only one, nor possibly the best.  It
> is not me that has proposed that solution. I still dutifully follow the
> Code.  We already have the possibility to create authoritative lists as of
> a particular date, that reset the clock for some types of changes, and it
> could be that gender does not change after that date.
> In your senario, the ecologist has lost interest and wandered off long
> before you get to the end of your explaination.  They really don't care, by
> and large, about our little name games (an ecologist's term, not my view).
> It could be that no ending on a species epithet changes between 2020 and
> 2120.  Before that, we are stuck with the history we have.
> Mike
> ________________________________________
> From: Taxacom [taxacom-bounces at mailman.nhm.ku.edu] on behalf of David
> Redei [david.redei at gmail.com]
> Sent: Sunday, May 22, 2016 7:18 PM
> To: taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu
> Subject: Re: [Taxacom] ICZN - gender of genus-group name ending in -oops
> Mike,
> > Here a generalized conversation I have had over and over:
> >
> > Ecologist: "What is this species? It has never been associated with this
> > plant before."
> > Me: "Oh, that is the same as the species you have been working with, it
> > has just been moved to another genus."
> > Ecologist: "But, both names are different, not just the genus, it must be
> > something different."
> > Me: "No, it is just that the ending is changed to conform with Latin
> > grammer."
> > Ecologist: "But I am writing in English, not Latin, so I use which
> ending?"
> > Me: "It is a rule, the ending changes."
> > Ecologist: "You taxonomists need to leave the 18th century behind and
> > embrace the 21st!  No wonder you have trouble getting respect and funding
> > in the modern world."
> >
> Your conversation is delightful. Here is another one from the future.
> Ecologist: "What is this species, Nezara viridulus? I have never seen this
> name."
> Me: "Oh, that is the same as Nezara viridula (the Green Vegetable Bug) you
> have been working with."
> Ecologist: "Oh, but the species name is different, it must be something
> different."
> Me: "Briefly, it was described in 1758 as Cimex viridulus. It was
> transferred to the genus Nezara in 1843, and according to the rules that
> time it changed the ending to conform with Latin grammar, it became Nezara
> viridula. It was cited as Nezara viridula for nearly 200 years, and as it
> is probably the agriculturally most significant Heteroptera, 1000+ papers
> used this name. But recently we taxonomist have decided that we want to
> leave the 18th Century behind and embrace the 21st. Therefore the rules of
> naming animals were modified in that way that for all animals the original
> spelling of the specific epithet must be used, with no regard of the
> current taxonomic placement of the species, because this will make dealing
> with the names more easy for those who do not want to look up Latin words
> on Wiktionary. So it is now Nezara viridulus. But be careful, only Nezara
> viridula has changed to Nezara viridulus, Nezara antennata and Nezara
> yunnana won't change to Nezara antennatus and Nezara yunnanus, those will
> remain unchanged. From now on, if you want to know the correct name of an
> animal, you will only need to look up the original description, so simple.
> You can complete the script and write the last line, the reply of the
> ecologist / applied entomologist.
> With best regards, David
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Scott Thomson
Museu de Zoologia da Universidade de São Paulo
Divisão de Vertebrados (Herpetologia)
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