Note to contributors (not part of the Checklist)

This page holds the current draft of a checklist for authors who want to establish new zoological genera and species.  The idea is to provide a very terse summary of the relevant points of the International Code of Zoological Nomenclature, since the Code itself is very long and complicated, and it’s sometimes hard to see the wood for the trees.  The checklist is in two parts: Requirements and Best Practice.

Note that this page has no official standing with the ICZN, and for that matter neither do I.  I’m just acting as an incubator.  (If the Commission were to want to adopt the finished version, they would be welcome.)  In any case, this is currently a work in progress and at this point is made available only so that people can critique it.

Feel free to contribute by leaving a comment below.  Note, though, that we very explicitly do not wish to add anything that expands the scope of this checklist beyond the establishment of new zoological genera and species (for example, dealing with replacement names, families, or subgenera/subspecies).  To be useful, the final version should fit on a single sheet of A4 paper.

The draft checklist

This list applies only to the establishment of new genera and species.  It is not intended to guide the assignment of replacement names, nor for judging the availability of existing names.  For simplicity, in some places its requirements are more stringent than those of the Code.  This version of the Checklist is based on the 4th Edition (2000) of the Code, and may become outdated with the publication of the 5th Edition of the code.  For further information, see the ICZN’s official FAQ.

Requirements

  1. The new name must be published in a work issued for the purpose of providing a permanent, public scientific record.
  2. The work must be produced in an edition containing simultaneously obtainable copies by a method that assures numerous identical and durable copies.  For the purposes of priority, the Code defines the date of publication as the date on which the numerous identical durable copies were made simultaneously obtainable.  Numerous copies that are not simultaneously obtainable (e.g., print on demand, paper reprints, etc.) do not constitute published works.  [In practice, this means the work must be printed on paper and made obtainable in a batch.  The Code does not specify how many copies must be printed, but 50 or more is typical.  Note that on-line publication does not count.]
  3. The newly named animal must not already have a name that can be used for it.
  4. A new genus name must not have previously been used for a different genus or subgenus; a new species name must not have previously been used in the same genus for a different species or subspecies.
  5. The new name must be spelled using only the 26 letters of the English-language alphabet, without diacritics or punctuation.
  6. New scientific names must consist of “words” (not merely initialisms or arbitrary combination of letters), i.e. the name, or each part of a binomial, must in some language be pronounceable as a single word.
  7. The new name must be explicitly stated to be new and the rank of the new taxon must be given.  This may be done by appending “sp. nov.” to the first use of a new species name, and “gen. nov.” to a new genus name.
  8. The new name must be accompanied by the explicit designation of a type.  For a species, this must be a holotype specimen or syntype series. If the holotype or syntypes are not lost or destroyed, state that they are (or will be) deposited in a collection, and indicate the name and location of that collection and the specimen number within the collection. For new genera, a type species must be designated.
  9. The new name must be accompanied by a description or definition that states in words characters that differentiate the taxon, or be accompanied by a bibliographic reference to such a published statement.
  10. If a species name (i.e., the second part of a genus+species combination) is, or ends in, a Latin or latinized adjective or participle in the nominative singular, it must agree in gender with the name of the genus that contains it.

Best practice

  1. The Code does not state exactly what constitutes “a permanent, public scientific record”. To avoid controversy, recognised academic journals should be used, and newsletters and popular magazines avoided. While peer-review is not required, names published in reviewed literature may be more widely recognised.
  2. Publish new taxon descriptions in a widely understood language where possible; otherwise, provide a summary in a widely understood language.
  3. The date of publication should be stated within the published work itself.  Sometimes only the year is given, but more precision (month and day) is preferable in case a priority dispute arises.
  4. When establishing a new species, avoid species names already established within closely related genera, to avoid the creation of secondary homonyms if the genera are later synonymized.
  5. Avoid creating new names that have been represented as misspellings of existing names.
  6. Avoid creating zoological names that are already established under other Codes of scientific nomenclature (e.g., the botanical code or the bacteriological code).  These are not forbidden by the Code, but may cause confusion.
  7. Avoid spellings that are likely to be misspelled by subsequent users, and take care to spell the new name consistently throughout the work.
  8. Species can be named after people by casting those people’s names into a Latin genitive: when doing this, observe gender and number distinctions.  The default method is: add -i to the name of a single male, -ae for a single female, -arum for several females, and -orum for any group with at least one male.
  9. If at all uncertain about the formation of the new name, consult a linguist.
  10. State the etymology of the new name.
  11. State the gender of a new genus name.
  12. Illustrate the type material, showing the diagnostic features of the taxon where possible.
  13. Register the new name at ZooBank.

Contributors (in chronological order)

  • Mike Taylor
  • Wolfgang Wuster
  • Francisco Welter-Schultes
  • David Patterson
  • Paul van Rijckevorsel
  • Brad McFeeters
  • William Miller
  • Christopher Taylor
  • David Marjanović
  • Bill Eschmeyer
  • Frank Krell
  • Richard Pyle
  • Mark Robinson
  • Matt Wedel
  • Stephen Thorpe
  • Tony Rees
  • Gunnar Kvifte
  • Miguel Alonso-Zarazaga

125 Responses to “Checklist for new zoological genus and species names [DRAFT v3]”


  1. [...] and at the suggestion of one of the list members I have now posted the in-progress checklist as a page on this site, having revised it in accordance with several [...]

  2. P. van Rijckevorsel Says:

    There appear numerous ways this might be improved.

    It would be good to add a disclaimer such as:
    “The following applies to new names, that is, names that are new NOW (2011 onwards). It also applies only to names published in works printed on paper; in addition it is possible to publish works electronically on a physical carrier, but only if some additional requirements are met.”

    It would help if the requirements that apply only to the second part of the binomen (the “specific name”) are clearly indicated as such (i.e. 8 and 14).

    Neither 5, nor 7, strikes me as quite accurate.

    Some rephrasing here and there might help readability.

  3. Brad McFeeters Says:

    “the work itself should state the date of publication”

    What exactly do you mean by “date”? Plenty of nomenclatural works only include the year of publication, especially papers published in books.

  4. William Miller Says:

    Is the intent to leave out the fiddly exceptions (like the rule allowing the hyphen in Polygonia c-album)?

    If so, looks good.


  5. No. 11 for types applies directly to species names; I would suggest appending something like “If proposing a new genus name, the type species should be made clear (Art. 68)”.

  6. Mike Taylor Says:

    Thanks to all who have commented so far. Briefly:

    P. van Rijckevorsel, I don’t think we need prose to the effect that this is for new names made now — it could hardly be for new names made 20 years ago! And since the ICZN recognises only paper publication right now, the other addition you suggested is not needed[*]. Can you please explain how the wording of #8 and 14 could be made more explicit? It seems clear to me. Similarly, what precisely is wrong with #5 and #7.

    Brad McFeeters, I added a brief note on date precision.

    William Miller, I added a brief note on the fiddly exceptions to the 26-Latin-letters rule.


  7. The point of a disclaimer would be that the checklist only applies for publishing new names, not necessarily for judging the availability of old ones.

  8. Mike Taylor Says:

    Thanks, Christopher. I adopted your wording, modified as suggested by Francisco, and added a brief disclaimer as you suggested.


  9. On 7:

    The new name must be spelled using only the 26 letters of the Latin alphabet, without diacritics or punctuation. [There are a tiny number of exotic exceptions; ignore them.]

    It is debatable what the “Latin alphabet” means here: The Romans had a different alphabet than the English form currently used in many countries, while various permutations (Spanish, Portuguese, various Scandinavian) alphabets are also variations of the Latin alphabet. The suggestion “ignore exotic exceptions” is vague. I’d suggest replacing this:

    “The new name must be spelled using only the 26 characters of the English Latin alphabet: ABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ.”

    Spelling out which precise characters are intended avoids ALL confusion, and requires no use of diacritical letters common in other Latin alphabets:
    æ ñ ç å ø ł

  10. P. van Rijckevorsel Says:

    Concerning the alphabet, it is not disallowed to use diacritic marks, etc, merely unnecessarily complicated. Art. 11.2 rules that they are to be corrected, but they are not a problem: i.e. they are allowed. BTW: listing the 52 (not 26!) characters that make up the modern Latin alphabet is ungainly; it certainly does not help readability.

  11. P. van Rijckevorsel Says:

    As to the disclaimer
    * Christopher Taylor already explained the first point.
    * Obviously, it is allowed to publish a electronic work on a physical carrier (say, a set of USB-sticks), see Art. 8.5 and 8.6. There is fairly general agreement that this is not really a good idea.

    A possible rewording for
    “5. The new name of a genus must not previously have been used for a different animal. In a new name for a species, the second part of the name (the specific name) must not previously have been used in that particular genus. [Avoidance of homonymy. It is also recommended, though not strictly required, that a name of a genus not have been used for any other organism -- plant, fungus, etc.]”

    “8. The new name of a genus or the second part of the name of a species (the specific name) must be intended as “a word”, i.e. it must in some language be pronouncable as a single word.”

    “14. In a species name, the second part of the name (the specific name), if it is or ends in a Latin or latinized adjective or participle in the nominative singular, must agree in gender with the name of the genus that contains it. [Article 31.2]”


  12. P. van Rijckevorsel wrote:

    Concerning the alphabet, it is not disallowed to use diacritic marks, etc, merely unnecessarily complicated. Art. 11.2 rules that they are to be corrected, but they are not a problem: i.e. they are allowed. BTW: listing the 52 (not 26!) characters that make up the modern Latin alphabet is ungainly; it certainly does not help readability.

    While it may seem ungainly, it is by far more explicit and shorter, thus reducing the amount of explanation or clarification required to “shorthand” it for potential new authors. The transliteration of special characters, diacritics, or ligatures in normal alphabets required when transfering to a unmodified English-biased alphabetic system (what the ICZN favors, also as convention (e.g., ü becomes ue)) forces us to qualify modification for the authors. This can be specified simply by listing the characters “allowed.”

  13. P. van Rijckevorsel Says:

    It is pretty much axiomatic that it cannot be phrased shorter or more explicit than by verbatim repeating the relevant Rule from the zoological Code. However, shortness can be achieved if this is paraphrased (obviously at some loss of accuracy): “a new name should be written in the 26 letters of the modern Latin alphabet”. This is unlikely to be misunderstood by the layman, which I understand to be the objective of this checklist.

  14. David Marjanović Says:

    15. Species named after people are usually formed by shoehorning those people’s names into a Latin genitive, and this means that the Latin gender and number distinctions must be observed. The default method is as follows: add -i to the name of a single man, -ae to that of a single woman, -arum if a species is named after several women, and -orum for any collective with at least one man in it. Avaceratops lammersi was automatically corrected to A. lammersorum because the description states explicitly that it’s named after the entire Lammers family, not just a single Mr. Lammers.

    ICZN recognises only paper publication right now

    This is not true. “Identical and durable copies” can be made on other materials. Several names have been validly published in Palaeontologia Electronica by depositing CDs in the required number of libraries.

    Ironically, it’s the current draft of the PhyloCode that requires publication in a way that can be read “without a special apparatus”; this is very close to the old “in ink on paper” and does not allow CDs. However, it’s likely to change.

    pronouncable

    That would be pronounced with [k] instead of [s]. Because the English language imported pretty much all French spelling conventions except the use of ç, the only choice you have is to keep the silent e in: pronounceable. I bet that’s how all (large) dictionaries spell it.

    The new name must be explicitly stated to be new.

    Perhaps add that this is usually done by adding abbreviations behind the name when it first appears: “gen. nov.”, “sp. nov.”, “gen. et sp. nov.”, “n. gen.”, “n. sp.”, “n. gen., n. sp.”…

    Perhaps also add that the rank(s) must be explicitly stated. Everyone treats Apsaravis ukhaana as valid, but technically it isn’t, because it was only followed by “new taxon”; there are several more such examples from the 1990s and 2000s.

    The new name must be “a word” (not merely an acronym), i.e. it must in some language be pronouncable as a single word.

    This does not mean it can’t be an acronym! Several acronyms are valid names, for instance there’s a fly with the species name ansp after the Academy of Natural Sciences in Philadelphia, and nobody has yet complained about Omnivoropteryx sinousaorum being named after China and the USA.

    Even completely arbitrary combinations of letters are allowed, provided it’s “pronounceable”. For instance, the genus name Gythemon looks like a Greek word, but isn’t; it’s randomly generated or something.

  15. David Marjanović Says:

    From the regular post…

    Whatever might or might not eventually be possible in terms of simplifying the Code, everyone recognises that that would be a huge job, and something that would take years to do. So let’s ignore that possibility for now.

    But, you know, someone sat down and did it for the bacteriological Code. That version is now official, and it’s incredibly easy to read. If you’re used to the ICZN, your eyes will pop out.

  16. Mike Taylor Says:

    Thanks to Jaime and P. for recent comments.

    I have retained the term “26 letters of the Latin alphabet” since this is what the Code itself uses, and the “26 letters” is AFAIK unambiguous — isn’t it the case that all the other variations on the Latin alphabet have more than 26 letters, as in the addition of ø to the Danish version? In any case, I strongly agree with P. that listing the letters would be ugly and patronising without offering any real additional information.

    Since diacritical marks, if used, must subsequently be removed, it seems a better summary of the Code to state simply that they should be be used, so I have left that clause as it is.

    I also applied most of P.’s clarifications to the wording regarding generic and specific names.

    I do not believe it IS “allowed to publish a electronic work on a physical carrier (say, a set of USB-sticks)”, since these do not “assure numerous identical and durable copies.” The contents of a USB stick can be changed.

    By the way, P., is there a full first name that I could use?

  17. Mike Taylor Says:

    Thanks, David. I added your suggested point #15, with minor wording changes — I felt I ought to get rid of “shoehorned”! — even though it is not strictly speaking a “requirement of the Code”, because it’s such useful advice for avoiding errors in such a common case. Please check that my modified version is OK.

    You are right that non-paper publication can be acceptable under the current Code: for example, I could have 50 copies of my paper etched into slate tablets. But as noted by Taylor (2009) in the BZN, PE did not in fact correctly fulfil the rather baroque requirements of the Code for CD-based publication. This illustrated that the current rules are too hard to get right, and that anything other than paper is therefore best avoided for now. Hence the wording in the checklist that “in practice this means it must be printed on paper”.

    “It’s likely to change” — do you know something about the Phylocode’s direction that I don’t? The last I knew, none of the editors wanted to amend it to recognise electronic publication — see http://svpow.wordpress.com/2010/06/14/i-only-just-realised-the-draft-phylocode-does-not-recognise-electronic-publication/

    Thanks for spotting the “pronouncable” typo — now fixed.

    I clarified the requirements to state that new names are new, along the lines that you suggested — please check the new version.

    Yes, there are zoological names that are acronyms: but since they can be pronounced as words, they are not “merely acronyms”, hence the wording in the checklist.

  18. Mike Taylor Says:

    “If you’re used to the ICZN, your eyes will pop out”. Well, not so much: when I follow the link you provided, I get “Page not available”.

  19. P. van Rijckevorsel Says:

    As to USB sticks, the zoological Code makes no distinctions between a floppy disk, a CD, a DVD or a USB stick. Yes, a USB stick can be altered, but so what? That merely means it is bad idea, not that it is not allowed.

    If you do not believe the Code, check the archives of the list.


  20. van Rijckevorsel again:

    It is pretty much axiomatic that it cannot be phrased shorter or more explicit than by verbatim repeating the relevant Rule from the zoological Code.

    How so? Without reading the unwieldy clarifications and examples of the Article relevant, it is rather unclear that diacritics or ligatures are proscribed (Art. 27). The simple statement above does not possess this qualification, and thus one may assume it is permitted when transcribing. Do I assume correctly that such a sheet should list rules to those who do not look into the bulk of the ICZN document? I think that was Mike’s original point. If so, the rules should be concise and self-contained (as well as accurately describe what is required). In this case, the ENGLISH version of the Latin alphabet (excluding extra characters in OTHER Latin alphabets, such as the Danish, French, or Spanish/Portuguese alphabets) requires either explicit reference, or a characterization of permissible characters. I chose both.

  21. Mike Taylor Says:

    A USB stick is, by design, not a “durable” (i.e. unchangeable) copy.

  22. David Marjanović Says:

    isn’t it the case that all the other variations on the Latin alphabet have more than 26 letters, as in the addition of ø to the Danish version?

    Probably not, because some versions subtract as well as add letters. Common omissions are W, Q and X; to access them on a Latvian keyboard, I hear, you need the AltGr key. But never mind, what you mean is obvious enough, at least for a cheat sheet.

    Please check that my modified version is OK.

    It is, thank you!

    as noted by Taylor (2009) in the BZN, PE did not in fact correctly fulfil the rather baroque requirements of the Code for CD-based publication

    Ah. I’ll need to read your paper at last. :-]

    “It’s likely to change” — do you know something about the Phylocode’s direction that I don’t?

    Yes. I’m a member of the Committee on Phylogenetic Nomenclature, and I got afraid that there would be no traffic on its mailing list before the end of my term, so I started a little discussion about a month ago. It ended very quickly, but the intent to recognize electronic publication in some form is there. I’ll read that discussion again.

    I clarified the requirements to state that new names are new, along the lines that you suggested — please check the new version.

    Fine with me.

    “If you’re used to the ICZN, your eyes will pop out”. Well, not so much: when I follow the link you provided, I get “Page not available”.

    I have no idea how that happened. Try this http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/bv.fcgi?rid=icnb.section.185 or this http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK8808/ .

  23. P. van Rijckevorsel Says:

    “A USB stick is, by design, not a “durable” (i.e. unchangeable) copy.”

    durable = “able to exist for a long time without significant deterioration;”

    What is the lifetime of a file on a USB stick? As compared to the lifetime of a file on a CD?

    Durable does not mean unchangeable. Some of the most unchangeable things in this world are not durable, and vice versa. A bar of gold is very durable, but if you take a hammer to it, very changeable.

  24. David Marjanović Says:

    By the way, P., is there a full first name that I could use?

    You actually cite “Paul van Rijckevorsel (2009)” in your BZN paper, which I’m reading right now. :-)

    However, perhaps Mr van Rijckevorsel is a bit culture-shocked by your intent to address random strangers by their first names. So far, I’ve only seen this from Americans.

  25. Mike Taylor Says:

    Thanks, David, that all sounds good (and the new links work).

    Hmm. I am on the Phylocode mailing list, and didn’t see anything in recent months. Oh, or maybe you mean the traffic was on a list that is only for the committee members?

  26. David Marjanović Says:

    Ah, so CD publication is allowed, it’s just that PE forgot to mention that CDs were distributed and where they were deposited.

    Durable does not mean unchangeable. Some of the most unchangeable things in this world are not durable, and vice versa. A bar of gold is very durable, but if you take a hammer to it, very changeable.

    Wouldn’t be the first time that the ICZN simply fails to express what it means.

  27. Richard Pyle Says:

    GREAT CONCEPT! You have my full support. My 2 cents are as follows:

    Intro Section

    I don’t se any advantage to limiting the scope to new genus and species names. I would expand to include family-group names. Also,I would change the wording to “genus-group” and “species-group” (and “family-group”), to avoid confusion about subgenera, ubspecies, etc.

    If this does not get incorporated into a the ICZN FAQ directly, then there should be a statement within the intro that refers the readers to the ICZN FAQ:
    http://iczn.org/category/faqs/frequently-asked-questions#block-views-slash-faqs_new_species-block_1 for more information.

    Similarly, I think it would be useful to include a statement that ZooBank is “open for business” for voluntary registration of new names and the published works that contain them, and that readers should consult http://zoobank.org for more details.

    Item #3:
    =========

    I agree that 50 should be included, but explicitly as a recommendation. I would expand and re-word this point as follows:

    —————–
    3. The work must have been produced by a method that assures numerous identical and durable copies, which are simultaneously obtainable. The Code does not define “numerous”, but a minimum print run of 50 copies is recommended. The word “durable” means that the the numerous copies must be physical in nature (not just electronic signals). Online-only publication currently does not meet the requirements for publication under the Code.
    —————–

    Item #4:
    =========

    I would re-write this section as follows (the print date doesn’t matter — it’s the date on which numerous durable copies were first made simultaneously obtainable).

    —————–
    4. Under the Code, the date of publication is defined as the date on which the numerous identical durable copies were made simultaneously obtainable. Subsequently obtainable copies, or numerous copies that are not simultaneously obtainable (e.g., print on demand [Article 9.7], paper reprints, etc.) do not constitute published works under the Code, and have no effect on date of publication. It is good practice to include the date of publication (as here defined) within the published work itself (provided it is accurately represented).
    —————–

    Actually, I might be tempted to append this to the end of point 3. Basically, the idea is to define what makes a publication an accepted published work under the Code. The downside is that the point is longer. The upside is that there are fewer total points in the list, and the points are more self-contained.

    Item #5:
    =========

    Wolfgang responded with:
    > The new *genus* name or the new genus+species *combination* might be a
    > better wording – after all there are vast numbers of species out there
    > with the specific epithets punctatus, vittatus, etc.

    This is a *wonderful* example of how different people define the word “name” (the bane of my bioinformatics life these past two decades!). Some (particularly botanists, but also many zoologists) maintain that the word “name” refers the full-context binomial or trinomial. Some use the word “name” to refer to only a single element of a compound name (e.g., species epithet). Alas, the Code glossary sort of defines it both ways. The glossary is a bit more specific for the term “scientific name”, as applying to the complete name, so I would suggest re-wording as follows:

    —————–
    5. The complete scientific name (e.g., full binomial or trinomial) must not previously have been used for a different animal. When establishing new species or subspecies names, it is good practice to avoid epithets already established within different but closely-related genera, to avoid the creation of secondary homonyms if the two genera are later synonymized. It is also good practice to avoid creating new scientific names that have been represented as mis-spellings of existing names, or names established under other Codes of scientific nomenclature (e.g., the botanical Code or the bacteriological Code).
    —————–

    I added the recommendations (including Francisco’s recommendation) because I think they are good practice.

    > 6. The newly named animal must not already have a valid name

    I would change “valid” to “available”:

    Item #8:
    =========

    I would suggest re-wording as follows:

    —————-
    8. New scientific names must consist of “words” (not merely an acronyms or arbitrary combination of letters), i.e. the name or parts of a binomial or trinomial must be pronounceable in some language as a single word.
    —————-

    Item #9:
    =========

    I agree with Francisco’s suggestion on excluding replacement names, except instead of adding a sentence, I would re-word as follows:

    —————-
    9. New names (except for new Replacement Names) must be accompanied by a description or definition that states in words characters that are purported to differentiate the taxon, or be accompanied by a bibliographic reference to such a published statement.
    —————-

    Item #11:
    =========

    Again, I would re-word as follows:

    —————-
    11. The new name must be accompanied by the explicit fixation (i.e., explicit designation) of a type. For species-group names (e.g., species and subspecies), this must be a holotype or syntypes. If the holotype or syntypes are extant specimens (*strongly* recommended), provide a statement of intent that they already are (or will be) deposited in a collection, and indicating the name and location of that collection (e.g., the museum name and the specimen number). For new genus-group names (e.g., genera and subgenera), a type species (i.e., an available species-group name) must be fixed. For family-group names (e.g., families, subfamilies, tribes) the type genus must be fixed.
    —————-

    Item #13:
    =========

    13. It is good practice to avoid spellings that are likely to be misspelled by subsequent users, and be sure to spell the new name consistently throughout the work.

    Aloha,
    Rich

  28. Mark Robinson Says:

    Point 5: I’d like to add another recommendation (although, again, not currently a requirement) that using the same word with minor spelling differences should also be avoided no matter how suitable the name may appear to be; eg Mononychus/Mononykus. I understand that this (Mononykus), and probably most of the others, was done as a “quick and easy fix” when a proposed name was discovered to be already occupied, but it must surely be the cause of some unnecessary confusion.

    Additionally, although of perhaps minimal scientific merit, I would also like to see it recommended that the etymological derivation be explained when publishing a new name. This could actually be important when determining the correct Latin genitive for specific names but I think it should apply to generic names too.

  29. Mike Taylor Says:

    Richard, first of all, many thanks for these comprehensive and detailed comments!

    I have followed your recommendation to broaden the scope of the checklist to cover family-group names well as genus- and species-group names, broadening the language where appropriate, and mostly by adopting your wording, though with some modifications. (I’d be grateful if you’d re-check the current version and let me know if I introduced any errors as I tried to simplify some of what you’d written.)

    My concern is that, in order to achieve its goal, this document needs to stay as short and sweet as possible. Many of the suggestions being made, including many of yours, make the document longer (either by addition of new points or additional verbiage in the existing ones) — for good reason, because they are adding real information. But I don’t want to fall into the trap of uncritically accepting every proposed addition, because allowing the list to grow unhindered would ultimately yield a result not much more comprehensible than the Code itself. In short, I want to make sure that we say everything that we need to say, and nothing that we don’t.

    Anyway, I think it’s made some huge steps forward, and I am really happy with how it’s turning out.

  30. Mike Taylor Says:

    Thanks, Mark, good points. Now done.

  31. Mark Robinson Says:

    Thanks, Mike. I’m sure you’re aware of this and are leaving the points as they are (and adding any new ones to the bottom) so that the references in people’s posts continue to make sense, but the current order doesn’t quite flow as well as it could.

    Specifically, points 11 and 12 relate to specimen material but are in the middle of a bunch about the creation and form of new names. Point 13 seems like an extension of point 5.

    There are probably others and may be new ones as the list continues to grow, er… organically. This can all be addressed at the end of this process.

  32. Matt Wedel Says:

    Number 5 begins, “The complete scientific name (whether uninomial, binomial or trinomial)”–is there any gain by replacing ‘trinomial’ with ‘multinomial’? I don’t know how that would come about other than Genus (Subgenus) species subspecies, but if we’re aiming for maximum applicability in minimum space, it could be worth it.

    Number 11 currently states, “If the holotype or syntypes are extant [strongly recommended], state that they are (or will be) deposited in a collection…” The placement of the strong recommendation before the comma is confusing; it sounds like we are strongly recommending that people on name new taxa based on extant holotypes or syntypes, which I think is not the intent.

    Finally, I assume that we are all aware that the permissiveness of the Code has opened the door to Hoser taxonomy. Would it be worthwhile to say that although self-publishing is not prohibited by the Code, it generally does not represent best practice (or is frowned upon by working taxonomists, or something to that effect), and similarly, that peer review is not required by the Code but is strongly recommended by us? That takes us beyond just boiling the code into the shortest form that still includes everything most people are likely to need, but it seems important.

  33. Mike Taylor Says:

    Thanks, Matt, some important stuff there.

    Now that I come to think of it, I don’t think we need any of the “uninomial” stuff, we can just say that it’s true whether the name consists of one word or more. I love it when the text can be made more expressive by removing words.

    Number 11 obviously was misleadingly phrased, because you misread it :-) It was indeed intended to say that it’s strongly recommended that the type specimens should be extant. (This is probably much more confusing for us as palaeontologists than for the neontologists who make up most of the zoology community — we may misread it as saying that the type specimens should be of extant animals, whereas all the clause means is that the specimens themselves should still exists.)

    You final points, being recommendations rather than requirement — along with some others that Francisco sent be email — have tipped me over the edge into splitting the list into two: one of hard requirements, and one of soft recomendations. Stay tuned for the new version.


  34. If you’re making recommendations, I might suggest one that I refrained from making earlier because I thought it was relatively low priority: if you are publishing a new combination, please ensure that the identity(ies) of the species concerned is (are) explicit, preferably by citing (at least) the original combination. I’ve seen a few cases where authors have referred to “Aus gen. nov. for the species Aus bus (Smith)” without explicitly noting what Aus bus had been called previously. It can be very confusing when you’re not intimately familiar with the animals being discussed.

  35. Stephen Thorpe Says:

    point 16: >It is advisable, though not mandatory, to state the etymology of the new name< authors should be strongly encouraged to also state the gender of the new name here! I *hate* it when they don't state a gender (especially if they then use it with variable or ambiguous gender!)

  36. Stephen Thorpe Says:

    point 11: >For family-group names, the type genus must be designated< "designated" is the wrong word – it implies choice! Rather, the type genus must be cited (i.e., explicitly stated to be the type genus). This causes many problems, e.g. see http://species.wikimedia.org/wiki/Category:Article_16.2_compliance_issue

  37. Stephen Thorpe Says:

    points 1 & 2 are in practice so vague as to be virtually meaningless, e.g., how do you judge “purpose”, and what exactly does “obtainable” mean?

  38. Mike Taylor Says:

    Stephen, thanks for these thoughts.

    I sort of agree with you on points 1 and 2, but the wording that you dislike is lifted directly from the Code, and we are really not at liberty to rewrite what the Code says on these matters. We can add commentary, no doubt, on what these terms have been broadly understood to mean, but once we start down that path, the list is headed for the fate of being as long as the Code. If you can suggest short explanatory notes, I’ll be pleased to see them.

    On point 11, I believe that “designated” is correct — a zoologist erecting a new family does indeed choose what type genus to use — that’s part of the whole taxonomic process.

    Good point on stating genders of name. (Also: oops. I’ve failed to do that for both of my own new taxa.) I’ll add it to the Best Practice list.

  39. Mike Taylor Says:

    Christopher, I worry. Mission Creep and consequently List Bloat are constant dangers here. I think that your New Combination guidance is just over the line. Sorry. (I’m happy to hear other opinions on this, though.)

  40. Mike Taylor Says:

    PLEASE NOTE THAT I HAVE MADE THE CHANGE DESCRIBED ABOVE: the list has been broken into two, one enumerating Requirements and the other describing Best Practice. I have also reordered some of the points within lists. As a result, ALL NUMBERING HAS CHANGED; also some points have been split and others merged. As a result, all list-item numbers in comments previous to this one will now look wrong.

    Please be sure to comment only on the most recent version.


  41. [...] Rhea-neck post off the top of the SV-POW! home page, but I have news of the rapidly developing checklist for new zoological names.  As well as many, many minor and not-so-minor edits — and thanks to everyone who’s [...]

  42. Stephen Thorpe Says:

    Mike wrote:
    >On point 11, I believe that “designated” is correct — a zoologist erecting a new family does indeed choose what type genus to use — that’s part of the whole taxonomic process<

    No, no, no! It is different to designating/choosing a type species for a new genus. Once you decide on the name of the new family, there is no choice of type genus – the choice was to select the family name. Hence, the type genus of a new family is *cited*, not "designated". It is a sort of "chicken and egg" situation … gosh this simple point causes such confusion …

  43. Stephen Thorpe Says:

    PS: there have been a few actual cases of taxonomists naming a new family with any old name, not based on a type genus! E.g.

    http://species.wikimedia.org/wiki/Dendrochaetidae

    I alerted him to it, and advised him how to fix it (and he aknowledged someone else!)

  44. Stephen Thorpe Says:

    this may make the point clearer:

    choose new genus name, choose/designate type species

    choose new family name, cite type genus (i.e., no choice in latter)

  45. Stephen Thorpe Says:

    i.e., there are two choices involved in the first case, but only one choice in the second

  46. William Miller Says:

    Now that the list is split between ‘requirements’ and ‘best practice’, we probably don’t need the note “[Contrary to common belief, this is not an actual requirement.]” after best practice point 9 – this would help with the ‘fitting it on one page’ thing.


  47. I agree with William Miller’s suggestion in the previous comment. In fact, the current wording may be counter-productive if it only serves to inform people that they can get away without illustrating the types.

  48. P. van Rijckevorsel Says:

    For the record, I am noting that this Checklist keeps growing:
    * in scope
    * in length
    * in complexity of terminology and
    * in amount of errors
    I suppose it is human nature at work, but I have given up.

  49. Mike Taylor Says:

    Stephen, I take your point (that a family named after a contained genus must have that genus as its type). But surely this is cart-before-the horse? You don’t pick a nice family name, then fix your type genus based on its spelling, do you? Surely you choose what the type genus is going to be, and that gives you your family name? (Or at least a candidate family name — families after all do not have to be named after genera.)

  50. David Hone Says:

    I have a suggestion for a minor addition but one that shouldn’t add any real length. In addition to an etymology, it’s nice to get a pronunciation guide too. You should be able to fit that onto the exisitng line in just a few words so shouldn’t add to your overall length. Often it’s not an issue but there are plenty of dinosaurs that could have done with one…

  51. Mike Taylor Says:

    Christopher and William, I take your point about the “Contrary to common belief, this is not an actual requirement” comment on Best Practice point 9. I’ve removed it.

  52. Mike Taylor Says:

    I’m sorry to hear that you’ve given up, P. van Rijckevorsel — would you like me to remove your name from the list of contributors?

    You are right that list has grown significantly in scope and length, and I am not super-happy about that. It certainly is a balancing act to try to stay focussed when so many suggestions, each of them in isolation so good, are swarming around the core of the document, and I am inclined to think that maybe I’ve let it get too far.

    In particular, I question whether expanding to deal with ranks other than genera and species has caused more additional complexity than it’s worth. As a vertebrate palaeontologist, subgenera and subspecies (and indeed rank-based families) are hardly used in my field, so it would be painless for me to rip ‘em all out. But I’d like to hear from zoologists working in other parts of the field before I lunge in and throw those bits out.

    Finally: I am not necessarily sure I agree that the Checklist has been growing either in complexity of terminology (indeed I’ve been able to simplify parts of it) or in amount of errors. If, as a parting gift, you could identify specific errors, then that would be really helpful.


  53. Mike,

    I have retained the term “26 letters of the Latin alphabet” since this is what the Code itself uses, and the “26 letters” is AFAIK unambiguous — isn’t it the case that all the other variations on the Latin alphabet have more than 26 letters, as in the addition of ø to the Danish version? In any case, I strongly agree with P. that listing the letters would be ugly and patronising without offering any real additional information.

    I appreciate the note and that my discussion was at least somewhat worth reading. However, the broader point remains: Not all Latin[-based] alphabets have 26 letters.

    1. Some alphabets add letters at the end of a basic similar 26-character parse, or drop an auxillary letter (like we can do without C, too) while adding in others. So it becomes unclear WHICH 26 letters of WHICH Latin[-based] alphabet. This is why I propose specifying the English Latin alphabet, as it is the proscribed form.

    2. Other alphabets simply have much fewer letters, or fewer original Latin letters, and add newer ones to the end, making up to a total of 32 letters but lacking the 26 familiar letters familiar onlish in English, French and Spanish.

    Variously, Italian, Portuguese & Romanian modify the Romance-based origins of their alphabets, while Danish/Norwegian and Estonian, and Polish modify others, but generally, as few as three and as many as five of the following are not part of the alphabets: C, J, K, Q, V, W, X, Y. Some use these characters only when transcribing foreign words, but are only secondary to the alphabet; formalized alphabetic transcription in Estonian and Romanian at least lack them.

    3. Hawai’ian has 12 letters in its alphabet.

    4. The original Latin alphabet has fewer letters than the “Latin alphabet” we are familiar with (which is essentially a myth, as not even classic Latin used what we use today): ABCDEFZHIKLMNOPQRSTVX.

    All of this makes me think we should be able to use foreign ligatures or characters in taxonomy, generally, which a provision that, instead of using just 26 characters as proscribed in the English alphabet (which we really mean when we say “Latin alphabet” — the ICZN can suck it), we may only use characters that appear in formal alphabetic structures of languages that are based on but not identical to the Latin alphabet.

    But that’s besides the point, and would warrant appeals to the ICZN in its rule making. ICZN Art.11.2:

    Mandatory use of Latin alphabet. A scientific name must, when first published, have been spelled only in the 26 letters of the Latin alphabet (taken to include the letters j, k, w and y); the presence in a name when first published of diacritic and other marks, apostrophes or ligatures, or a hyphen, or a numeral in a compound species-group name, does not render the name unavailable[.]

    The PhyloCode is FAR less unclear (as I argued above) than the ICZN’s wording on the orthography, noting (Art.17.1):

    In order to be established, a clade name must be a single word and begin with a capital letter. The name must be composed of more than one letter and consist exclusively of letters of the Latin alphabet as used in contemporary English, which is taken to include the 26 letters a, b, c, d, e, f, g, h, i, j, k, l, m, n, o, p, q, r, s, t, u, v, w, x, y, and z, even though some of these letters are rare or absent in classical Latin. If other letters, ligatures, numerals, apostrophes, or diacritical signs foreign to classical Latin appear in a name, it cannot be established.

    Note that it provides a strict reference to which letters are available. As unlike David Marjanović’s earlier argument in contradiction to this statement, “A” and “a” are not considered distinct letters, but forms of the same letter (just as cursive and italicized forms of letters (VERY relevant in Cyrillic) are not considered different letters).

    I don’t expect to win this argument, but I think use of “English form of the Latin alphabet” helps remove the essential ambiguity with different alphabets using the Latin structure.

  54. Matt Wedel Says:

    Not all Latin[-based] alphabets have 26 letters.

    FWIW, I think that it would require an act of almost willful misunderstanding to not immediately grasp both the letter and spirit of point 6 as it is currently written–especially since the document is written in English, and not in Estonian, Hawai’ian, or classical Latin.

    In fact, if we’re serious about trimming verbiage, the bracketed aside in point 6 could be cut to, “A few exotic exceptions exist; ignore them”, or even, “Ignore the few exotic exceptions”.

  55. Mike Taylor Says:

    Jaime, you convinced me. The argument for retaining “Latin alphabet” is basically that that’s what the Code uses, but it just isn’t as clear as “English-language alphabet”. I’ll change the wording in the Checklist. Thanks for pushing through with this.


  56. In addition to an etymology, it’s nice to get a pronunciation guide too. You should be able to fit that onto the exisitng line in just a few words so shouldn’t add to your overall length.

    Completely pointless, in my opinion. Not required by the Code, and completely unenforceable.

  57. Mike Taylor Says:

    Christopher, I strongly disagree on the utility of a pronunciation guide. The point of course is to give guidance to readers who want to say the name right, not to be a means of coercion to any readers who might want to say it wrong. If Romer has spelled out that Euhelopus is to be pronounced You-hell-OH-pus rather than Oy-uh-LOFF-us, it would have saved me a lot of confusion at conferences. For this reason I always include a pronunciation guide — it’s just a courtesy to readers.

  58. William Miller Says:

    What information is gained by phrasing requirement 7 as:

    New scientific names must consist of “words” (not merely initialisms or arbitrary combination of letters), i.e. the name, or each part of a multi-word name, must in some language be pronounceable as a single word.

    rather than simply

    Each part of a new scientific name must be pronounceable as a single word in some language

    or something of the sort?

    To me, distinguishing between ‘words’ and ‘arbitrary combinations of letters’ is confusing, as it seems to imply that a name must carry meaning (which IIRC it doesn’t need to — Kogia, Zyzzyx etc. are pretty close to ‘arbitrary combination of letters’.

  59. William Miller Says:

    Also, requirement 2: “The work must be obtainable, when first issued, free of charge or by purchase.”

    ‘Free of charge or by purchase’? What other possibilities are there? For that matter what point does requirement 2 make that the reference to ‘simultaneously obtainable copies’ in requirement 3 doesn’t?

  60. Mark Robinson Says:

    +1 for recommending a pronunciation guide.

    I also think that we could prob do without the second half of Point 6 under Best Practice. It’s amusing on a blog but you could save a line by removing it.

    It’s starting to look quite polished now. (Btw, it was an excellent idea to start this “cheat sheet”).

  61. Mike Taylor Says:

    William, in point 7 I think we do need to keep the language about the names not being mere initialisms — it’s in the Code.

    On requirement 2, the same thought had occurred to me. The language is straight out of the Code, but it does seem pretty much a tautology. Point 1 says that it has to be published (and issued); something that has been published is obtainable; and as you say, something that is obtainable must be obtainable either free of charge or for a fee — there really aren’t any other alternatives.

    So this is a bit radical but: should we just remove point 2 completely?

    Mark, in the same spirit, I think perhaps we can and should dump the second half of point 6, as you suggest. Anyone else have opinions on this?

  62. Stephen Thorpe Says:

    Mike:

    >families after all do not have to be named after genera<

    Eh????

    Stephen

  63. Mike Taylor Says:

    Tony Rees pointed out on the ICZN mailing list that as previously written, point 5 was inadequate. It said “The complete scientific name (whether consisting of a single word or multiple words) must not previously have been used for a different animal.” This restriction is necessary but insufficient. The new versions is less elegant, but I think necessary: “A new genus name must not have previously been used at either genus or subgenus level for a different taxon; a new specific name must not have previously been used at either species or subspecies level (in that genus) for a different taxon.”

  64. Mike Taylor Says:

    >families after all do not have to be named after genera<

    Eh????

    My bad — they do, of course. (I’ve been messing about with unranked clades too often :-)

  65. Stephen Thorpe Says:

    the overall problem here is that this stuff probably only makes any sense to us who know it already, and even then, there appears to be some difficulty getting the wording exactly right … God help a rookie!

  66. Mike Taylor Says:

    If you’re right, Stephen, then we’ve failed. In that case, the thing to do would be to reverse the decision to include family-group names and genus-group names other then genus and species-group names other than species, and get back to the simpler version that only gives guidance on genera and species. I’d like other people’s opinions on that.

  67. Stephen Thorpe Says:

    the problems apply also to the “simpler version” (i.e. just genus and species guide). You can’t make something (i.e. the Code) simpler if the complexity in it is actually *no more than necessary* … perhaps your next job will be to put the Constitution of the United States into one simple paragraph, capturing everyting in it!

  68. William Miller Says:

    Yes, deleting 2 entirely is what I had in mind.

    Point 6: for that matter, is the first half really necessary? As written it would seem to rule out anything from Native American languages etc. I’m not especially sure what kind of names it’s meant to discourage.

    “William, in point 7 I think we do need to keep the language about the names not being mere initialisms — it’s in the Code.”

    Oh, I’m aware it’s in the Code. But I think the Code is redundant here.

    It can’t mean ‘scientific names can’t be composed of initials’ because many are: Fubarichthys is my favorite, but that *does* have an actual word in it … Csiro is probably a better example.

    As I understand it the difference between ‘acronyms’ and ‘initialisms’ is only that the former are pronounced as a word (eg NASA, SCUBA) and the latter are pronounced as individual letters (eg CDC).

    So what information does prohibiting initialisms contain that saying ‘must be pronounceable as a single word’ does not already include?


  69. You can’t make something (i.e. the Code) simpler if the complexity in it is actually *no more than necessary*

    Bit unnecessarily pessimistic, I think. For a start, the Code doesn’t just deal with procedure for new names, it deals with the availability of old names, and a lot of its complexity derives from the need to incorporate different standards for different times. Also (and in apparent agreement with the disclaimer), I’m personally happy for the guide to use understandable rather than necessarily precise terminology. Perhaps the disclaimer should make it clear that this page is intended to assist the Code, not replace it? (Perhaps stating the obvious.)

    At the end of the day, I think that the essential points that need to be conveyed are: (1) the new name should be published in a widely and permanently available format; (2) the name should not have been used previously for something else (not be a homonym); (3) should be clearly indicated as new when published; (4) should be accompanied by some form of verbal indication of its distinguishing features; (5) should have the nature and identity of its type(s) made clear.


  70. should have the nature and identity of its type(s) made clear.

    Oops, change ‘clear’ to ‘explicit’.


  71. ‘Free of charge or by purchase’? What other possibilities are there?

    As a gift or loan, perhaps? I think (I could be wrong) that this clause, together with the reference to the ‘permanent scientific record’, is intended to indicate that the publication should be generally available, without extraordinary restrictions. So, for instance, the author could not distribute his work under the condition that only certain people be allowed access to it, or that all copies be returned or destroyed on a certain date.

    Oh, and to finish this multi-comment screed, I would support the removal of references to family-group nomenclature to simplify the guide. The family-group rules are the most complicated part of the Code, and its not hugely likely that many people referring to a guide such as this would be dealing with family-group nomenclature.

  72. William Miller Says:

    ‘Free of charge’ would in fact include ‘as a gift or loan’ — those aren’t charged for. So I think it’s tautological.

    (What you say may be what the Code INTENDED though.)

  73. Stephen Thorpe Says:

    >‘Free of charge or by purchase’? What other possibilities are there?<

    Completely pointless discussion here, but an amusing sideline! Is it really a tautology? These would be:
    (1) free of charge or not free of charge
    (2) by purchase or not by purchase
    but I think there may be other possibilities in addition to 'Free of charge or by purchase' … what about theft?? Is theft the obtaining of something free of charge when it was for purchase? OR, is it the obtaining of something without purchase that was NOT free of charge?? Ha, ha, ha, … sheer sophistry …

  74. Mark Robinson Says:

    Mike, I think we should conflate Points 8, 9, and 10 under Best Practice, as they are all talking about the same thing. Perhaps something like
    “State the etymology of the new name, its gender, and how it should be pronounced.”
    This should now fit on a single line even at a font size of 12 but without sacrificing clarity.

    With regard to Point 2 under Requirements, I understood the wording in the ICZN to be making it clear that both making a paper available for purchase and free of charge were considered acceptable; ie your paper doesn’t have to appear in some expensive tome – you can give it away, provided that the other publishing criteria are met. Not sure if that informs the current discussion about whether to retain that point but there you go.


  75. With regard to Point 2 under Requirements, I understood the wording in the ICZN to be making it clear that both making a paper available for purchase and free of charge were considered acceptable

    That makes sense to me. In which case, it becomes even easier to leave it out of the quick-guide entirely as it is not warning authors of potential mistakes.

  76. William Miller Says:

    @Stephen Thorpe: OK, arguably it’s not technically a tautology. But in practice it is.

  77. Matt Wedel Says:

    I would support the removal of references to family-group nomenclature to simplify the guide. The family-group rules are the most complicated part of the Code, and its not hugely likely that many people referring to a guide such as this would be dealing with family-group nomenclature.

    I strongly agree with this. In addition to the stated reasons, at least in paleontology it is more common these days to use phylogenetic nomenclature for suprageneric taxa, and my sense is that a majority of these pay only lip service to the ICZN, and sometimes not even that. Perhaps we could change the title to, “Checklist for new zoological genus and species names” to make the scope of the list explicit.


  78. Matt Wedel writes:

    FWIW, I think that it would require an act of almost willful misunderstanding to not immediately grasp both the letter and spirit of point 6 as it is currently written–especially since the document is written in English, and not in Estonian, Hawai’ian, or classical Latin.

    In fact, if we’re serious about trimming verbiage, the bracketed aside in point 6 could be cut to, “A few exotic exceptions exist; ignore them”, or even, “Ignore the few exotic exceptions”.

    Pardon the lateness of this reply.

    1. Is taxonomy to occur only in English-language venue? I am curious if we should ignore or simply not regard French, Spanish, or Chinese-language papers in which taxa are formed. If so, then the above issue might seem relevant. If not, then it seems the statement above argues that this document should only benefit those who would publish in an English-language venue.

    2. I agree that we can do without the bracketed text, but I think we can do without it entirely and transfer the premise to the main body as a modifier of “English-language alphabet”. To wit: “English alphabet without diacritics or ligatures.” Much of the ICZN’s breakdown of the relevant article deals with modifying ligatures to separate the characters (æ to ae) or remove the diacritics used to shorten a phoneme (ü to u instead of to ue). Much of it is irrelevant is the reader is instructed to use only the English-language as the basis for the characters of a name.

  79. William Miller Says:

    The reference to ‘exotic exceptions’ means exceptions to the rule that diacritics aren’t allowed (like the hyphen in Polygonia c-album) not diacritics themselves as exceptions to the normal alphabet.

  80. Mike Taylor Says:

    Stephen, I disagree that we can’t make this simpler — MUCH simpler — than the Code, while still being correct. The Code’s scope is much, much broader than that of the Checklist.

    William, I think I am hep to deleting point 2, but I’d like to hear from more people before I do it.

    I have removed the note on exceptions to the 26-letter rule — it just seemed to generate confusion. The purpose of point 6 is to indicate that a taxonomic name cannot contains, for example, acute accents, underscores or Greek letters.

    Mark, points 8, 9 and 10 in Best Practice are related, but still separate. I think that keeping them as separate points better reflects that, and I am not SO desperate to save a line that I’m willing to compress as you suggest. Sorry.

  81. Mathew Wedel Says:

    I am happy with the proposed deleting of point 2. If all we’re saying is that a work has to be obtainable somehow, that seems to be implicit in point 1. So IMHO for the purposes of this checklist point 2 adds no useful information.

  82. Mike Taylor Says:

    OK. Following comments from William Miller and Matt Wedel, the old, tautologous, point 2 (“The work must be obtainable, when first issued, free of charge or by purchase”) is now gone. Sadly, this means that all the subsequent points have changed their numbering again, so that earlier comments in this thread cannot be taken at face value. Please be sure to comment on the most recent version of the Checklist.

  83. Mike Taylor Says:

    … and not only that, but family-group names are also gone, following comments here from Christopher Taylor and Matt Wedel, and from others by email. My growing sense of disquiet that the list seemed to gaining more and more bulk is at least somewhat assuaged. The next step in paring back would be the removal of genus-group names other than genera and species-group names other than species (i.e. reverting to talking only about new genera and species), but I am waiting bfore I do that, to see how a discussion on the ICZN list pans out.

  84. Stephen Thorpe Says:

    OK, starting again at the top:
    >1. The new name must be published in a work issued for the purpose of providing a permanent, public scientific record — not for example in a popular magazine or newsletter.<

    I would say: To be an available name, the new name must … This gives some meaning to "must". Or, better, or in addition, change the heading of the checklist from 'Requirements' to 'Requirements for the availability of new names'.

    THE CODE DOES NOT SPECIFY THAT POPULAR MAGAZINES OR NEWSLETTERS DON'T COUNT AS PERMANENT & PUBLIC SCIENTIFIC RECORDS! The Code gives no examples at all. It is VERY UNCLEAR that newsletters don't count … many publications are nominally newsletters but have ISSN numbers and there is NOTHING to say that they don't count! This part of the Code is very vague, so I STRONGLY urge AGAINST quoting examples from nowhere that may in fact be bogus …

  85. Stephen Thorpe Says:

    PS: The Zoological Record has many beetle names from publications like Gekkan-Mushi, which are basically popular magazines (popular at least in Japan), but whose purpose is nevertheless to provide a permanent public scientific record. The distinction between scientific journal and “popular magazine” is a fuzzy one …

  86. Stephen Thorpe Says:

    I will also mention at this time that the current ICZN commissioners are no better placed than the rest of us to interpret the Code, unless they happen to have been involved in the making of the 1999 edition. It would be naive to think otherwise …

  87. Mike Taylor Says:

    Stephen, you make a good point about what is and isn’t “issued for the purpose of providing a permanent, public scientific record” — it’s one of those maddeningly imprecise definitions in the Code that gives the impression of having been left that way deliberately because the authors didn’t want to engage with the problem. Still, since that’s what the Code gives us to work, our choice in the Checklist is either to pass on that wording unaltered — leaving the problem of interpretation wholly with authors as before — or make some attempt, however flawed, at helping with that interpretation. I think the latter is the lesser of the two evils, especially if what guidance we offer “fails safe” in the sense that anything we suggest does count, unquestionably does.

    As is often the case, I’d welcome other people’s readings on this point.

  88. Matt Wedel Says:

    I think the latter is the lesser of the two evils, especially if what guidance we offer “fails safe” in the sense that anything we suggest does count, unquestionably does.

    I agree. We’re not passing judgment on previously published names, but giving a checklist for people hoping to publish, and steering these people away from newsletters and magazines is not a bad thing, IMHO. Those that are used to getting their taxonomic work through newsletters will probably ignore us anyway, and if they don’t, it might be to their advantage.

  89. Stephen Thorpe Says:

    I disagree that it is the lesser of two evils. I have in the past had arguments with people, including one who has contributed to this discussion and who tries to discredit the (otherwise accepted) names of others as being published “merely in hobbyist magazines”. In effect, he can pin that label on just about whoever he likes, so we ought not to facilitate such behaviour. A better way to go here (though it really comes under “best practice”, rather than requirements, is to say something like “choose a place to publish that is not considered to be controversial by the taxonomic community”. Examples of good choices would be ZooKeys or Zootaxa, but perhaps not Calodema or Australasian journal of herpetology …

  90. Stephen Thorpe Says:

    At any rate, I think that when the Code says:

    8.1.1. it must be issued for the purpose of providing a public and permanent scientific record

    it is talking about the work (=the publication) itself, and *not* the journal or magazine or whatever that the work is published *in*!

  91. Mike Taylor Says:

    OK, Stephen. I found myself thinking that I can satisfy everyone on the matter of what kind of publication counts by splitting the current point 1 into two – one in each of the lists. The Requirement would just recount what the Code says — “issued for the purpose of providing a permanent, public scientific record” — and a new Best Practice would expand on what that might mean, how it might be interepreted.

    But actually, no. The split there is is not truly between Requirement and Best Practice; it’s between statement and interpretation. The bottom line is that the Code requires certain things, and we best serve the users of the Checklist by giving some notion of what that means. And, as I said, if we “fail safe”, that is a good thing.

    And you talk about someone “who tries to discredit the (otherwise accepted) names of others as being published “merely in hobbyist magazines”. In effect, he can pin that label on just about whoever he likes, so we ought not to facilitate such behaviour.” No, he can’t. If a name is published JVP or Zootaxa or indeed Nature, he can’t pin that label on the publication. That’s the point: if an author wants a name to stick, he should send the paper to the Journal of Zoology, not the Biennial Newsletter of the West and South-West Dorset Lepidopterists and Malacologists Benevolent Society or the Sun.

    Still, I reworded point 1, and moved the interpretation part into a bracketed comment. I hope you are happier with the new version.

  92. Stephen Thorpe Says:

    >The new name must be published in a work issued for the purpose of providing a permanent, public scientific record. [The Code does not state exactly what is acceptable, but recognised academic journals are safe, and newsletters and popular magazines should be avoided.]<

    Well, this is a bit better, but you are still, I think, missing an important point, namely that the 'purpose of providing a permanent, public scientific record' applies *to the work itself*, and *not* to the journal (or whatever else) that it is published *in*! It is about the intention of the author, not the journal (or whatever), i.e., was the intention of *the author* to provide a permanent, public scientific record? Or, was it, for example, just a "hand out" associated with a lecture or society talk?


  93. [...] have just made a series of fairly major edits to the in-progress Checklist for new zoological genera and species, and wanted to explain what’s changed and [...]

  94. Stephen Thorpe Says:

    >No, he can’t. If a name is published JVP or Zootaxa or indeed Nature, he can’t pin that label on the publication. That’s the point: if an author wants a name to stick, he should send the paper to the Journal of Zoology, not the Biennial Newsletter of the West and South-West Dorset Lepidopterists and Malacologists Benevolent Society or the Sun<

    again, I think you are missing he crucial point: just about nobody publishes *entirely* in prestigious journals … and many good taxonomists who aren't just striving for promotion choose/have to opt for somewhat obscure publications, but the point is that there is a continuum here. Sure, you can't discredit the likes of Nature (at least on these grounds!), there is enough "room for interpretation" for the wealthier taxonomists to form exclusive clubs with tame editors, and deem anything outside of that as "mere hobbyist magazines". Politics is a fact of life which must be taken into account …

  95. Mike Taylor Says:

    All right, folks, some biggish changes this evening, meriting the milestone of “draft 3″ as you can see in the page title. I discussed the changes, and the reason for them, in a brief new article, so I won’t rehash them here. I hope that those of you who disagree with this outcome will at least understand it, and continue to participate.

  96. Richard Pyle Says:

    Nice job! A few comments:

    Someone earlier pointed out that “raising” in the first sentence of the intro is not the best choice of words. Use “establishing” instead (as you do in point 4 of Best Practices).

    Point 1: Move “[The Code does not state exactly what is acceptable, but recognised academic journals are safe, and newsletters and popular magazines should be avoided.]” out of requirements and put it in the Best Practices section. If you want, you can keep the first half as a bracket in the Requirements, but the avoidance of newsletters and popular magazines is definitely not a requirement, and therefore shouldn’t be confused as such by putting it in the Requirements section.

    On point 2, change “In practice, this means the work must be printed on paper in a batch” to “In practice, this means the work must be printed on paper and made obtainable in a batch”. It doesn’t matter if its simultaneously printed — it only matters that numerous copies are simultaneously obtainable.

    Point 4 & 10: I think “specific name” is every bit as confusing and potentially misleading as “species-group”, for similar reasons (i.e., most people will read it as “particular name”, without regard to the rank or rank-group). I think you’re fine with “species name”. Maybe it’s not in perfect synch with the Code’s Glossary usage, but if people are going to nit-pick about Code glossary terms, they won’t need to read this list. If you *MUST* use this term, then at the very least define it with a parenthetical in point 4; not way down in point 10.

    Best Practices Section

    Point 1. Really? Is there evidence to back this statement up (that peer-reviewed names are “used” more? If it’s not known to be true, don’t put it in this way. You can keep the point, but give a different reason for favoring peer review (e.g., your colleagues will respect you more, and take your science more seriously).

    Point 2. It’s not obvious that “widely understood language” and “common language” refer to the same thing — maybe use the same phrase (whichever) in both places?

    Point 6: “have already established” Either add “been” between “already” and “established”, or change “have” to “are”. Also, change last sentence to “These are not forbidden by the Codes, but may cause confusion.”

    That’s all I got on Draft 3.

    Aloha,
    Rich


  97. •Conversely, the Code’s definition of genus-group names (see the Glossary) include things called “collective groups”, whatever they may be.

    They’re something you definitely don’t want to be covering here. Collective groups aren’t often used in zoological nomenclature. They’re one of the available options for dealing with form taxa: a collection of morphologically similar units, functionally like a genus, but not wishing to imply any deeper biological significance. For instance, collective groups are often used in classification of fish otoliths: Menidarum would be a collective group of otoliths attributed to Menidae but not attributable to individual species within that family. Collective groups differ from genera in not having type species: they’re tied to a concept rather than a species, so even if the first described ‘species’ of Menidarum was reassigned, the Menidarum label would still be available for other unassigned menid otoliths.


  98. Couple of minor points:

    Would ‘species-level’ be an alternative to ‘species-group’ that would be more readily understandable by non-specialists? Even if the checklist doesn’t directly relate to subspecies, I’m a little concerned that users may not realise that a new species could not be given a name that had previously been used for a subspecies in that genus, or vise versa (Aus bus cus is a homonym of Aus cus).

    I agree with Richard Pyle that the statement about peer-review is unfounded. Perhaps something along the lines of “peer-review is more likely to produce a sturdy publication, with less chance of future issues affecting the validity or identity of your new taxon”? (But less garbled, of course.)

    Best practice point 2: “otherise” needs correcting to “otherwise”. Does it mean that the end is in sight if we’re reduced to criticising typography?

  99. Stephen Thorpe Says:

    >The new name must be published in a work issued for the purpose of providing a permanent, public scientific record. [The Code does not state exactly what is acceptable, but recognised academic journals are safe, and newsletters and popular magazines should be avoided.]<

    Let me be clearer. Point 1, as written, is WRONG in linking purpose of work (=author's intention) with kind of publication (newsletter, magazine, etc.) in which the work is published … there is NO CONNECTION here! The "work" is the article (=paper), NOT the journal!

  100. Mike Taylor Says:

    Many thanks, Rich, LOTS of good stuff here. I adopted all your suggested changes, including the complete elimination of the word “specific”. (And I can’t believe the word “raising” was still in there!)

  101. Mike Taylor Says:

    Christopher, thanks for the explanation of “collective groups”. I think I speak for most of us when I say: ugh. :-)

    I don’t think “species-level” would have been any better than “species-group”, as anyone who hadn’t already been told what it means would reasonably assume it’s just “at the level of species”, so that “Diplodocus carnegii has species-level differences from Diplodocus longus, but not genus-level differences”. Still, since Draft 3, we don’t need to talk about species-group at all, so that problem has gone away. (Which of course was part of the reason for the Draft 3 changes.)

    I added the subspecies name-avoidance clause to Requirement 4: is that OK?

    Are you happier with the more circumspect new wording of the peer-review point?

    Thanks for spotting the dumb typo. Yes, I hope it does mean that we are coming close to the end!

  102. Mike Taylor Says:

    OK, thanks, Stephen, you have made your point on the distinction between the purpose of the author’s work and the nature of the publication it appears in: sorry I have been so slow to pick up on it, and thanks for keeping on bashing away till I got it.

    If you’re right, then I agree that this is important, and a change will be needed. But what you’re saying seems to be in conflict with how this ICZN rule (Article 8.1.1) is generally interpreted. Can you supply any evidence to support your interpretation? And does anyone else have thoughts on this issue?

    (Of course, someone who really IS serious about providing a permanent, public scientific record will not let the work be buried in the Biennial Newsletter of the West and South-West Dorset Lepidopterists and Malacologists Benevolent Society, so in practice this shouldn’t arise, but it’s worth getting right anyway.)

  103. Gunnar Says:

    3. A new genus name must not have previously been used for a different genus- or subgenus-level taxon; a new species name must not have previously been used in the same genus for a different taxon, whether species or subspecies. Note that this is not restricted to currently recognised taxa – one must also consider names preoccupied by taxa currently in synonymy.

    My proposed changes are in italics. As far as I know the ICZN does not forbid homonymies between genus-group names and names outside the genus-group.

  104. Mike Taylor Says:

    Gunnar writes:

    3. A new genus name must not have previously been used for a different genus- or subgenus-level taxon.

    Is that really right? Even if the name was used as a subgenus of a completely unrelated genus? (I’m not disputing it, just checking that I understood you properly.) Actually, that makes sense: after Greg Paul had established the subgenus Giraffatitan in 1988, it would have been really inconvenient if someone had subsequently used that same name for a mollusc genus.

    In your proposed new wording, why is “genus- or subgenus-level taxon” better than “genus or subgenus”?

  105. Gunnar Says:

    “Genus-group” means “genus or subgenus”, see ICZN art 42.1.

    “Genus or subgenus” is probably better than “genus or subgenus-group level taxon” – I am afraid I stared myself blind at the word “taxon”.

  106. Stephen Thorpe Says:

    >8.1. Criteria to be met. A work must satisfy the following criteria:

    8.1.1. it must be issued for the purpose of providing a public and permanent scientific record,<

    My only justification for "my interpretation" of this article is what the article actually says! Specifically, it is explicitly talking about "a work". A published article in a journal is "a work", not the journal itself! It is not my problem if the Code is widely misinterpreted, with a distinct tendency for people to read into it what they think it ought to say, rather than what it actually says! …

  107. Stephen Thorpe Says:

    Example: could one describe a new taxon in a newspaper article? Yes, if one really wanted to and could convince the editor to accept it. However, if this wasn’t your intention, but you mentioned the name of a new species you were planning to describe and gave a diagnosis by saying that it was the only species in its family to lack wings, then (under previous editions of the Code) you would have inadvertently made the name available EXCEPT that it wasn’t your purpose here to provide a permanent scientific record…


  108. I added the subspecies name-avoidance clause to Requirement 4: is that OK?

    Perfect.

    Are you happier with the more circumspect new wording of the peer-review point?

    Perhaps not entirely, but it’s certainly better than anything I can currently think of ;-) . Let’s go with it.

    On a completely unrelated note, has an SV-POW! post ever passed the hundred-comment mark before?


  109. Stephen:

    My only justification for “my interpretation” of this article is what the article actually says! Specifically, it is explicitly talking about “a work”. A published article in a journal is “a work”, not the journal itself!

    With all due respect: this is bollocks. And your example in your last comment shows why this is bollocks. Whether or not a publication is issued for the permanent scientific record (whatever that means) is controlled by the publisher, not by the author. In the case of self-published works, the two are the same person. But in the case of journals, magazines, newspapers, etc., they are not. When I submit a manuscript to a journal for publication, I am dependent on the publisher meeting the requirements. It’s not something I control directly. In the newspaper example you give, whether or not the name is available is dependent on the newspaper’s archival and/or distribution system, not on the researcher’s.

  110. Stephen Thorpe Says:

    >Whether or not a publication is issued for the permanent scientific record (whatever that means) is controlled by the publisher, not by the author

    Really? Says who? Point me to something which indicates that the writers of the Code meant this…

    I think you undermine yourself by saying “whatever that means” … how you know who controls it if you don’t know what it is??

    My interpretation is closest to what the Code actually says … i.e., was the author intending to put something on permanent scientific record, or just making published informal remarks. This distinction isn’t so relevant today, but more so in the “murky past”…

  111. Stephen Thorpe Says:

    >In the newspaper example you give, whether or not the name is available is dependent on the newspaper’s archival and/or distribution system, not on the researcher’s<

    I think you confuse 2 issues: yes, 'whether or not the name is available is dependent on the newspaper’s archival and/or distribution system' … this is true (as per Articles 8.1.2 and 8.1.3), BUT, IN ADDITION TO THIS, whether or not the name is available is dependent ALSO on the intention of the author, as per Article 8.1.1

  112. Stephen Thorpe Says:

    actually, it isn’t so much an issue about author’s intentions vs. publisher’s control … this may be a red herring! Rather, it is about the intrinsic nature of the work itself vs. anything to do with the journal in which it is published. I am saying that ‘issued for the purpose of providing a public and permanent scientific record’ depends only on the former (intrinsic) and has nothing to do with the latter. “Permanent” in this context has nothing to do with durability of medium (paper), which is covered by other parts of Article 8 …

  113. Mike Taylor Says:

    Thanks to you both, Stephen and Christopher, for pursuing this matter of what exactly constitutes “a work issued for the purpose of providing a permanent, public scientific record”. It’s obvious that you’re not going to agree, and while I’ve always held an interpretation closer to Christopher’s, I’ve concluded we need to talk to some other experience taxonomists to get a true perspective. So I’ll be mailing the ICZN list on this question, and I’ll revise the Checklist accordingly.

    Christopher, this isn’t the very first SV-POW! article to past 100 comments, but in doing so it joins a very small club. Lies, damned lies, and Clash of the Dinosaurs is currently at 111 comments, which means that this one has just overtaken it. I can’t offhand think of any others past the 100 mark. (Meanwhile, a post on my other blog currently stands at 815 comments!)

  114. Stephen Thorpe Says:

    I have responded fully on the ICZN list. My conclusion is basically that Art. 8.1.1 is just meaningless verbage. It doesn’t explain what it means by either example or contrast with other possible “purposes of issue”. It is therefore most unfortunate that the very first bullet point on your list conveys no precise meaning, rules out nothing, and adds nothing …

  115. Matt Wedel Says:

    It is therefore most unfortunate that the very first bullet point on your list conveys no precise meaning, rules out nothing, and adds nothing …

    Well, we could go with the strict letter of the Code, which as you’ve pointed out is so vague as to be meaningless, and new names can be established in newspaper articles or cellphone instruction manuals or greeting cards, or we can go with the sense of that part of the Code as it’s understood by most working taxonomists, in which case the work is usually taken to apply the journal or newsletter or whatever, and not the paper. If our goal is to produce something that is actually useful to people who need help, that is. You can probably tell where my sympathies lie.


  116. Well, we could go with the strict letter of the Code, which as you’ve pointed out is so vague as to be meaningless, and new names can be established in newspaper articles or cellphone instruction manuals or greeting cards, or we can go with the sense of that part of the Code as it’s understood by most working taxonomists, in which case the work is usually taken to apply the journal or newsletter or whatever, and not the paper. If our goal is to produce something that is actually useful to people who need help, that is. You can probably tell where my sympathies lie.

    This is a noble argument, Matt. The problem with this is that the term “journal” is ill-defined (especially internationally) and may (in English, Britain or America) include newspapers. While many systematists, taxonomists, nomenclators, or research associates (be they doctors, professors, or students) may wish that there was a more concrete form of publication in which taxonomy may be validated, this is not the case. The ICZN used to provide a firm outline for what was invalid, but again, no longer. There is no historical or current practice that has been determined by even a majority in an organization as broad as the ICZN of the precise form and breadth of document that a “work” including taxonomy must be published; if there were, current recognition of taxonomic practices would force us to abandon a large amount of established taxonomy, and this historical precedent would bear on the current standard. If the current standard whould differ from the latter without expunging it, as the ICZN clarifies, it does so without firmly excluding the various forms you would have done away with.

    This means various “authors” get to have their nomenclature validated by rule of law, even if it is ignored by peers.

  117. Mike Taylor Says:

    Stephen, I think it’s unfortunate that you leapt into the discussion on the ICZN list. The whole reason I posted the issue there was to get a different perspective from other contributors, to break up the deadlock between you and Christopher. That’s going to be harder to do now that your near-immediate response has set the terms of the debate.

  118. Mike Taylor Says:

    Having been thus advised by MANY people on the ICZN mailing list, I have reluctantly removed the old Best Practice point #11 (“State the authors’ preferred pronunciation of the new name.”) It raises too many issues in a multilingual discipline.

    (I still think it’s the right thing to do, but I concede that it probably doesn’t belong on this list.)

  119. Stephen Thorpe Says:

    nice comment from Jaime, illustrating my point that some people (not Jaime) read into the Code what they think *ought* to be there, and not what *is*. As for the “deadlock” with Christopher, I don’t think that there is one! I can accept his argument that it is the publisher who controls purpose of issue (which is all he was objecting to), while maintaining my conclusion that 8.1.1 has no precise meaning and therefore rules nothing out …

  120. Stephen Thorpe Says:

    to reiterate an important point which I tried to make previously, we all know what orthodox, unproblematic taxonomy looks like, and luckily most taxonomy is of this kind. The Code tries to delimit what is acceptable, but the boundary is *very* fuzzy, so it is impossible to set out in precise terms the requirements for Code compliant taxonomy. The best that one can do is to describe what orthodox, unproblematic taxonomy looks like, and strongly urge people to follow that…

  121. Matt Wedel Says:

    it is impossible to set out in precise terms the requirements for Code compliant taxonomy. The best that one can do is to describe what orthodox, unproblematic taxonomy looks like, and strongly urge people to follow that…

    I agree with this completely!

  122. Mike Taylor Says:

    Many thanks to all who have contributed on the “what constitutes a permanent, public scientific record” thread, both here and on the ICZN list. Although nothing remotely resembling a consensus has emerged, it’s nevertheless served to crystalise my thinking regarding the what the Checklist ought to say on this subject.

    Many historical cases that have been discussed (especially on the ICZN list) are not directly relevant to the remit of the Checklist, which, remember, is about guiding the establishment of new names, not judging the validity of old ones. But these and other edge-cases such as advertisements in the Times have reminded me of what we all knew all along — there is no hard-and-fast boundary that we can nominate, and say that everything THIS side counts and nothing THAT side counts. What we can do, however, is pick a lower-bound boundary and say that everything THIS side counts, while saying nothing about what’s on that side. For example, if the Checklist said “Publish all new names in the BZN“, then that would certainly ensure that those new names satisfied Article 8.1.1, while equally certainly not precluding publications that do not meet the Checklist’s recommendation from satisfying 8.1.1.

    While we don’t want to make the Checklist so restrictive as to single out any individual publication, we (and I in particular) do need to keep constantly in mind that its goal is not to tell lazy zoologists what they can get away with, but to help diligent zoologists to do a good, solid job. With that in mind I changed the current draft of the checklist as follows. Previously we had:

    Requirements 1. The new name must be published in a work issued for the purpose of providing a permanent, public scientific record. [The Code does not state exactly what is acceptable.]
    [... Other recommendations ...]
    Best Practice 1. While peer-review is not required by the Code, names published in reviewed literature are likely to be more widely recognised. Recognised academic journals can safely be used; newsletters and popular magazines should be avoided.

    I have changed this as follows.

    Requirements 1. The new name must be published in a work issued for the purpose of providing a permanent, public scientific record.
    [... Other recommendations ...]
    Best Practice 1. The Code does not state exactly what constitutes “a permanent, public scientific record”. To avoid controversy, recognised academic journals should be used, and newsletters and popular magazines avoided. While peer-review is not required, names published in reviewed literature may be more widely recognised.

    I hope this goes some way to satisfying everyone (while no doubt not wholly satisfying anyone).

    Further discussion is welcomed, so long as it’s based on a recognition of what the Checklist is actually trying to achieve.

  123. Stephen Thorpe Says:

    I am and was aware of what the checklist was trying to achieve, but I was concerned about possible side-effects, i.e., creating the impression that names published in “newsletters or magazines” could be ignored. The current rewording is certainly better, except that an available name is an available name, and anyone who doesn’t “recognise it” as such is just plain wrong. Peer-review, or the lack thereof, has *nothing whatsoever* to do with name availability, so saying ‘while peer-review is not required, names published in reviewed literature may be more widely recognised’ in the present context seems to me to be confusing two issues: nomenclature and taxonomy. Taxonomy which is not peer reviewed may be ignored, but the new names therein cannot be ignored, and must be either (1) treated as valid, (2) treated as synonyms, or (3) treated as nomina dubia …


  124. [...] where we’ve often had excellent, busy, informative comment-threads (example 1, example 2, example 3) that have resulted in us learning a lot from our commenters.  So why is it that some blogs’ [...]

  125. ijreid Says:

    Something else to be noted, people (eg. Barberena) should not name taxa (eg. Barberenachampsa) after themselves, it is unprecedented, and frankly unappreciated by others.


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