atom feed145 messages in edu.ku.nhm.mailman.taxacomRe: [Taxacom] Does the species name h...
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Subject:Re: [Taxacom] Does the species name have to change when it moves genus?
From:David Campbell (pleu@gmail.com)
Date:Jun 18, 2012 3:17:00 pm
List:edu.ku.nhm.mailman.taxacom

Requiring that the original name be a non-homonym would help with relatively few cases in my experience. Usually you have to track down the invalid homonyms anyway to confirm which name was meant in an existing identification. [Hint in light of the fauna I was just working on-if you name a new taxon in a very long established and diverse genus, avoid common Latin descriptors.]

Tradition is a significant factor, given that over 250 years of literature needs to be taken into account. If a genus-species combination were regarded as fixed, then the question would be "which combination?" Probably the majority of species are not assigned to their original genus; many of these recombinations are well-established.

This gets into the Phylocode-ish question of to what extent and in what manner should the taxon name reflect the phylogeny.

Then there's the question of, if a generic and specific epithet pair becomes fixed, how do you indicate revised classifications?

Some original combinations are highly misleading, through homonymy, misidentification, or unduly broad early genus concepts. Changing Triceratops horridus back to Bison horridus would be rather unhelpful, for example.

In fact, the standardized common names being proposed for a number of taxa function as unchanging epithets. They are generally being developed for the taxa most likely to get attention from non-specialists, whereas specialists are likely to recognize suspiciously similar epithets in related taxa.

Including the author and date generally helps, although there are the unhelpful authors who either use the same epithet in closely related genera, have a memory lapse and create an outright homonym, or reuse common descriptors for multiple infraspecific forms within a genus.

-- Dr. David Campbell Collections Assistant The Paleontological Research Institution 1259 Trumansburg Road Ithaca NY 14850

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