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

Francisco Welter-Schultes fwelter at gwdg.de
Sun Aug 27 18:41:40 CDT 2017

There are serious flaws in this article.
The definition of a nomen nudum is independent from the presence of types.
There can be a perfect holotype, but if the description fails to comply 
with Art. 12 or 13, the name will be a nomen nudum.

I disagree also with the statement inside the text "conditions of the 
description of a typeless species are more rigid". The conditions of the 
description do not differ.
The quality of the description has not influence on the availability of 
the name.

However a "bad" description can result in not being recognised as such 
by the community.
Describing a new elephant as "grey" will provoke reactions that the 
author was assumed to have known that previously described elephants 
were also grey. Readers can assume that the author did not seriously 
assume that grey color differentiated the new species from others. I saw 
such arguments and tend to accept them.
I also saw identical descriptions for two new species, a result of 
careless work. The community did not regard the names as available.
Presence of a type does not make it better. Yes you can examine the 
original specimen, and clarify its taxonomic status, but the name will 
remain a nomen nudum. If a name is a nomen nudum, it is it from the 
first moment onwards.


Francisco Welter-Schultes

Am 27.08.2017 um 22:44 schrieb Stephen Thorpe:
> 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?
> Stephen
> _______________________________________________
> Taxacom Mailing List
> Taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu,
> http://mailman.nhm.ku.edu/cgi-bin/mailman/listinfo/taxacom
> The Taxacom Archive back to 1992 may be searched at: http://taxacom.markmail.org
> Send Taxacom mailing list submissions to taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu
> To subscribe or unsubscribe via the Web, visit: http://mailman.nhm.ku.edu/cgi-bin/mailman/listinfo/taxacom
> You can reach the person managing the list at: taxacom-owner at mailman.nhm.ku.edu
> Nurturing Nuance while Assaulting Ambiguity for 30 Some Years, 1987-2017.

More information about the Taxacom mailing list