[Taxacom] Nonsense in ZooKeys (photo based taxonomy again)

Stephen Thorpe stephen_thorpe at yahoo.co.nz
Sun Aug 27 15:44:07 CDT 2017

An article was published a few days ago in ZooKeys, on the subject of photo based taxonomy. From the abstract:

'If a taxonomist has omitted to compare the new typeless species with the known species externally similar to it, the latter cannot be diagnosed and its name in that case becomes nomen nudum.'

Presumably they mean the FORMER cannot be diagnosed. By "typeless species", they just mean no preserved specimen as type. Anyway, it seems that they have made a rather creative interpretation of Article 13.1.1.

13.1.1. be accompanied by a description or definition that states in words characters that are purported to differentiate the taxon

The authors pontificate thusly (and erroneously): 

'So, when describing a new typeless species a specialist should differentiate it from all the species described earlier. If the taxonomist in the differential diagnosis misses the comparison to a known species with which a typeless species is similar externally, the latter cannot be diagnosed on any account, and therefore its name falls under the definition of nomen nudum. Once again, we need to emphasize that nomen nudum here would be the result of nonprofessional actions of the taxonomist, who should have formally approached the task of comparison of typeless species to the closely related species described earlier'

The authors have just ignored the term 'purported'. Clearly it means 'purported by the authors of the new taxon', not 'purported by consensus of experts in the group'! Missing a character(s) which actually does differentiate a new taxon obviously does not invalidate the description (nomen nudum). At worst, it may lead to a nomen dubium. Clearly, there is no requirement in the Code to EXPLICITLY compare a purported new taxon with all known relatives! One simply has to specify characters which one thinks uniquely diagnoses the purported new taxon.

If anyone can make much sense of the rest of the article, which reads like jibberish to me, then I'd be very interested to hear it!

Let's stop filling the world scientific literature with nonsense, shall we?


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