[Taxacom] Ambiguous lectotype designation?

Francisco Welter-Schultes fwelter at gwdg.de
Sat Apr 13 18:21:57 CDT 2019

It was not that case, but I will try to look up that one, too.

Michael examined specimen BMNH 1935.6.14.1586 and saw that it measured 
86 mm, BMNH 1935.6.14.1587 measured 96 mm as given consistently in the 
paper. So on p. 158 there was an obvious error, which can be resolved 
with the information given on p. 157 and the collection record (tag 
326). I would not call this guesswork.


Am 14.04.2019 um 01:10 schrieb Stephen Thorpe:
> Hi again Francisco,Two points: (1) I still think that you might be missing the point that this case is *not* simply about citing incorrect details for a single specimen designated as lectotype. There are *two different specimens* which have been referred to as the lectotype, one of them in error, but it is subjective guesswork to determine which specimen was actually intended to be the lectotype. As such, the case is more similar to the case you mention of two holotypes.(2) Speaking of the case you mention of two holotypes, is it the case of Pselaphotheseus ihupuku Carlton & Leschen, 2001? Cheers, Stephen    On Saturday, 13 April 2019, 10:38:01 pm UTC, Francisco Welter-Schultes <fwelter at gwdg.de> wrote:
>   Hi Stephen,
> There are Recommendations in the Code to publish detaiiled information
> on the lectotype, such as Rec. 74B and 74C, so that the lectotype can be
> recognized in the collection. Here the specimen was illustrated and the
> size was given. This enables us to identify with less ambuiguity the
> presence of a typographical error. The designation is only ambiguous if
> there are constraints to assume there was not a typographical error.
> Anyone could of course designate again this lectotype as such, but then
> they would need to meet the conditions of Art. 74.7, particularly
> 74.7.3, which implies an explicit designation. I think this is not
> necessary here.
> If we screen the history of naming animals and extract all typographical
> errors in such a strict sense as you are promoting that, this would not
> be useful, and would not be in line with common practice.
> Linnaeus (1758) had an error rate of about 5 % or even more in his
> bibliographic references. Often figure numbers were given incorrectly.
> He described a mouse, which he did not have in his own collection,
> referred bibliographically to one single figure published in a
> pre-Linnean work (which we must identify as the holotype) and wrote 114
> instead of 141. Figure 114 was a fish. In such a case it is usual
> practice to regard Fig. 141 as the figure to which Linnaeus intended to
> refer, to accept this one as the holotype, and to write "Fig. 114,
> should read 141". It is not common practice to say that Linnaeus
> established the name for a fish at this instance, because literally the
> holotype must be this fish.
> On the other hand you are of course right, it is not automatically
> correct to say "Oh the author is clearly intending to refer to the first
> cited specimen!".
> The other side of the limit is not very far away.
> In the Commission we recently had a case where a holotype was presented
> on one page of a carelessly submitted publication, where a different
> holotype was presented on another page in the same work. Here it was
> really ambiguous and I would not recommend any tolerance in such a case.
> Some might have argued that the author's intention was clear, they
> described in detail their holotype in the text and just forgot to remove
> the picture of the false holotype or to delete the term holotype from
> the page that they seemed to have overlooked when finally reading the
> proofs. This was not only a typographical error. They really had a true
> specimen of that species depicted on the overlooked page and called it
> holotype, obviously in a previous version of their manuscript which they
> did not delete before submitting. The author was responsible for not
> removing the initially intended holotype selection from the manuscript,
> and so no valid holotype was designated at this occasion.
> In this case it was no problem to recognize the two specimens as
> syntypes, so the name was made available anyway.
> They went to the Commission and asked to recognize their "finally"
> intended holotype as the true holotype, but the Commission said, no,
> these were two syntypes, both belonged to the same species, and there is
> no need for the Commission to take action.
> Cheers
> Francisco
> Am 13.04.2019 um 22:53 schrieb Stephen Thorpe:
>>    Hi Francisco,I think that the issue isn't as clear as you are claiming. It is not clear to me that a "simple typographical error" can be assumed in this case, and in general it is a subjective judgement call which may therefore differ between authors. If there actually are (or seem to be?) two specimens with different identifiers both being referred to as the lectotype, then the designation is ambiguous. I don't think you can just say of the second cited specimen, "Oh the author is clearly intending to refer to the first cited specimen!"Having said that, I'm still not convinced that it actually makes much difference provided that someone publishes a clarification of which specimen is the lectotype (so that museums don't label the wrong one or both as lectotype!) Given that clarification, it seems to make no real difference if we consider the lectotype to date from the original designation, now clarified, or the earlier designation to be invalid but now designated validly. I guess it could be a problem if someone else designated a different lectotype in the interim and wants to uphold its validity as lectotype, claiming that the original designation was ambiguous and therefore invalid, though they might have difficulty making that judgement call objectively, given that they want their designation to be the valid one! I guess that this is why we have (used to have?) a Commission who could be asked to make a ruling on such problematic cases. However, in cases like the one that this thread is about, where (presumably) nobody has any particular reason to want to change the currently accepted lectotype, we can probably get baway with just publishing a clarification and carrying on as if the original designation was valid.Cheers, Stephen
>>        On Saturday, 13 April 2019, 9:55:59 am UTC, Francisco Welter-Schultes <fwelter at gwdg.de> wrote:
>>    I agree with you. The question is, is the lectotype designation
>> ambiguous? A simple typographical error, as we may assume here, would
>> not invalidate a nomenclatural act, given that the rest is consistent.
>> If it is ambiguous, then I see no option for tolerance and the act in
>> such a case would not be valid.
>> Cheers
>> Francisco
>> Am 13.04.2019 um 02:35 schrieb Stephen Thorpe:
>>>      Not so fast Francisco! If it was just an error in citing details of *a single specimen*, then that would be not a big deal, but if there are *two specimens* referred to as the lectotype, then I would say that it is problematic!
>>> Cheers, Stephen
>>>          On Saturday, 13 April 2019, 12:03:41 am UTC, Francisco Welter-Schultes <fwelter at gwdg.de> wrote:
>>>      Dear Michael,
>>> the Code is silent about such errors in lectotype designations, but it
>>> is usual practice to tolerate minor errors of this kind. I would
>>> recommend to publish a statement that this should have read 1587 instead
>>> of 1586, and explain the circumstances. If this is the only error I
>>> would tolerate it.
>>> Best wishes
>>> Francisco
>>> -----
>>> Francisco Welter-Schultes
>>> Am 13.04.2019 um 01:35 schrieb Michael Oliver:
>>>> Eccles & Trewavas (1989)** redescribed the cichlid fish *Haplochromis
>>>> heterodon* Trewavas, 1935, transferring it to *Otopharynx. *From the
>>>> several lots of syntypes they designated a lectotype, referring to it in
>>>> two places. First (p. 157), a specimen drawing is captioned "*Fig. 79*.
>>>> Otopharynx heterodon *(Trewavas). Lectotype. Male, 96 mm SL; Monkey Bay."*
>>>> Second (p. 158), under Material examined: "*Lectotype: *BMNH 1935.6.14.
>>>> *1586*. Male, 96 mm SL; Monkey Bay, coll. Christy. (Fig. 79)."
>>>> The problem is, the specimen with register number 1586 is NOT the one drawn
>>>> in Fig. 79. It measures only 86 mm SL. Furthermore, the original drawing
>>>> for Fig. 79 includes the notation "No. 326" and a specimen in another lot,
>>>> 1935.6.14.*1587*, has the collector's tag "326" tied to it (and this
>>>> specimen is the expected 96 mm SL; I have examined both specimens).
>>>> Thus, I think it is clear that 1587 (the drawn fish) is the intended
>>>> lectotype, despite the misstated register number under Material examined.
>>>> Is this lectotype designation ambiguous? Will it be sufficient when
>>>> redescribing this species (as planned) to explain the confusion and provide
>>>> the correct register number of 1935.6.14.*1587?*
>>>> ___
>>>> **Eccles, D. H. and E. Trewavas. 1989. Malaŵian Cichlid Fishes. The
>>>> Classification of Some Haplochromine Genera. Herten: Lake Fish Movies. 335
>>>> pp.
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