[Taxacom] taxonomic question concerning naming of unique species known only from painting of lost type

John Grehan calabar.john at gmail.com
Fri Mar 2 00:47:11 CST 2018

And to add, I now see that the species is listed as incertae sedis in John
Dugdale's (1994) revision of NZ Hepialidae. Nice to have that conclusively

John Grehan

On Fri, Mar 2, 2018 at 12:13 AM, John Grehan <calabar.john at gmail.com> wrote:

> I should have thought of that! (it's late at night, my excuse). We have an
> incertae sedis section already, so that looks like the best option. Thanks.
> John Grehan
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> On Fri, Mar 2, 2018 at 12:08 AM, Stephen Thorpe <
> stephen_thorpe at yahoo.co.nz> wrote:
>> It should be cited under the heading Hepialidae incertae sedis, as the
>> original combination, i.e. Porina mairi. The main thing is just to make it
>> clear that the correct generic placement is unknown. Saying "incertae
>> sedis" should be clear enough. Alternatively, just state that the correct
>> generic placement is unknown.
>> Stephen
>> --------------------------------------------
>> On Fri, 2/3/18, John Grehan <calabar.john at gmail.com> wrote:
>>  Subject: [Taxacom] taxonomic question concerning naming of unique
>> species known only from painting of lost type
>>  To: "taxacom" <taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu>
>>  Received: Friday, 2 March, 2018, 5:47 PM
>>  Dear colleagues,
>>  I would be interested in opinions
>>  regarding what to do about the genus name
>>  of a ghost moth for which the type has
>>  been lost and for which the original
>>  genus name is preoccupied. The only
>>  record of its existence is a painting
>>  made by the collector. Kiwi
>>  entomologists on this list will be familiar
>>  with this case.
>>  The moth was originally named as Porina
>>  mairi. The genus Porina was
>>  originally applied to a number of New
>>  Zealand ghost moths but since it was
>>  preoccupied these species have been
>>  assigned to other genera. The mairi
>>  species has been listed on the web
>>  under the genus Aoraia but there is not
>>  a shred of evidence for that assignment
>>  as the moth looks nothing like any
>>  known species of Aoraia (actually not
>>  specifically much like any known
>>  ghost moth other than in a general way
>>  for some of the wing pattern [other
>>  parts of the wing pattern being
>>  anomalous]).
>>  So the question for me is how to list
>>  this species in a world catalog of
>>  ghost moths. Should I just list it as
>>  'Porina' mairi, or assign it to a new
>>  genus? Which approach would be
>>  considered most 'professional' if that could
>>  be said? Please post views to the list
>>  so others may respond if
>>  appropriate. There may not be a 'right'
>>  answer, but at least opinions on
>>  this might help me decide which choice
>>  to make. Below is a description of
>>  the history of this specimen. A photo
>>  for the curious is at
>>  http://musicmusic.tripod.com/forgotten-fauna/forgotten-faun
>> a-moth-cicada.html
>>  Many thanks,
>>  John Grehan
>>  Web site history note: New Zealand's
>>  largest moth may well be rarer than
>>  the black robin or the kakapo. Buller's
>>  moth, a relative of the
>>  agricultural pest species the porina,
>>  is known only from a single specimen
>>  caught in the Ruahine Ranges by Sir
>>  Walter Buller (the famous Victorian
>>  ornithologist) and his brother-in-law,
>>  Captain Gilbert Mair, while they
>>  were searching for huia during summer
>>  of 1867.
>>  The moth was reported to have a
>>  wingspan of almost 6 inches (150
>>  millimetres), being as large as the
>>  huge bright green puriri or ghost moth
>>  which is occasionally attracted to
>>  house and street lamps on moist nights
>>  mainly during spring. The moth was
>>  described by Buller and illustrated in
>>  the Transactions of the Royal Society
>>  of N.Z. of 1872, and the specimen
>>  then lay for over 20 years in his son's
>>  collection. In 1890, the moth was
>>  reportedly sent to the British Museum
>>  on the barque Assaye, which sank
>>  during the voyage. However, we now know
>>  that the Assaye sank not on its way
>>  to England, but on the return journey,
>>  and so the present location of the
>>  specimen (if it still exists) remains a
>>  mystery.
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