[Taxacom] ICZN policy on replacing lost type specimens

Michael A. Ivie mivie at montana.edu
Thu Sep 13 11:34:42 CDT 2018

The writers should perhaps have thought about this more before sending 
it out.

3. B. Indicates the writers are unfamiliar with the documents or are 
writing from memory rather than from direct consultation of the text. 
The statement "The second step, in keeping with Appendix A of the Code 
(Code of Ethics), is to contact the original describer(s) of a species 
beforeattempting to designate a neotype, and to collaborate with them or 
to get their feedback" is simply fiction. The recommentations in the 
Appendix deal with proposing NEW NAMES, Neotypes are not mentioned at 
all. A Neotype does not, as I am sure they know, establish a new name.

However, I fail to see how you could fully establish that a type is 
actually lost without asking a living author if by chance they have it. 
This would be the required step involving a valid Neotype designation 
under the Code itself.


On 9/12/2018 9:06 PM, Doug Yanega wrote:
> Hi, all.
> Among the things that have arisen in the aftermath of the terrible 
> fire this month in Brazil's Museu Nacional - a tragedy that affects 
> many in the global scientific community - are numerous public comments 
> regarding the loss of the thousands of holotype specimens housed in 
> Rio, and how difficult it will be to replace them all. The latter 
> assertion - implying or claiming that *all *of the lost types will 
> need to be replaced - is inaccurate, and those of us serving on the 
> ICZN (International Commission on Zoological Nomenclature) feel that 
> it is essential to provide accurate information to counteract some of 
> these well-intentioned but slightly misleading comments. Our aim is 
> not to dismiss the concerns of those who are worried about the 
> consequences of losing so many type specimens, but to reassure people 
> that only a *fraction* of those lost types actually require 
> replacement, in no small part due to the commendable foresight of 
> curators and researchers who recorded digital images of many of those 
> types.
> Accordingly, I and a number of other Commissioners have drafted an 
> advisory document outlining what the ICZN Code actually says regarding 
> the replacement of lost types, emphasizing that the situation 
> surrounding each individual type must be taken into account, and *only 
> in exceptional cases* is it possible to designate a replacement 
> (neotype); doing so requires very explicit justification and 
> documentation. It is entirely likely that only a small fraction of the 
> holotypes that have been lost will fulfill the necessary criteria, 
> thus greatly reducing the burden on the taxonomic community. The task 
> will not be easy, but it will not be as comprehensive or 
> labor-intensive as many have assumed.
> For those of you who have an interest in this matter, please see
> https://docs.google.com/document/d/1Ef0H0pwnjJW5B5thzp-Fs5J3qEomuJyoEvKQd4hx-Lk/edit?usp=sharing 
> There are, inevitably, parts of the Code that can be easily 
> overlooked, easily misinterpreted, or fairly subjective. The purpose 
> of this particular document is to serve for clarification and as a 
> practical guideline. It does not, in any way, supercede the 
> "legislative" text of the Code itself, which is appended - unaltered - 
> at the end of the document, and also available at 
> http://www.nhm.ac.uk/hosted-sites/iczn/code/ in its entirety. We would 
> urge people in particular to note the various provisions of Article 
> 75.3, especially 75.3.6 and 75.3.7.
> Please do bear in mind that the rules concerning neotype designations 
> are explicitly intended to ensure a measure of quality control over 
> the process, and prevent abuses of the system; every one of these 
> rules is in place for a good reason. Most of these rules have been 
> unchanged (or even slightly relaxed) since at least the 1961 edition 
> of the Code, if not earlier, and they have served the community well 
> thus far.
> If you read through the document and still are uncertain about 
> anything, I and the other Commissioners are generally available to 
> answer questions. We would certainly prefer to spend a little effort 
> to address taxonomists' concerns *before* any types are replaced, 
> rather than after.
> PLEASE do pass this message on to colleagues who might benefit from 
> this information, including other mailing lists or social media groups 
> where this topic is of broad interest. This document may eventually be 
> published, but broad dissemination of the information *now* will still 
> be beneficial, especially given that publications have a much smaller 
> reach than mailing lists and social media, and also given how quickly, 
> and widely, inaccurate assumptions and claims have already been 
> distributed.
> Sincerely, Doug Yanega


Michael A. Ivie, Ph.D., F.R.E.S.

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