Message 2001-06-0063: Making Up Names _versus_ Emending Names

Thu, 10 May 2001 22:48:08 -0700 (PDT)

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Date: Thu, 10 May 2001 22:48:08 -0700 (PDT)
From: "Jaime A. Headden" <>
Subject: Making Up Names _versus_ Emending Names

  Here's my reasoning:

  A name is applied to a taxon so that the content of the taxon
(= group of something, typical animals, in the scientific sense
[non-vernacular]) can be easily referenced. Thus the name
"Artiodactyla" (with the etymology "even toes") is applied to
ungulates that have a set of even digitigrade toes for
locomotion (even though ancestrally there were three and four).
This name means something period. To chose that a name then
requires an ending such as -iformes to make it easier to search
in a database is to say that the name is unqualified to convey
some sort of information. If the name suffix -iformes is applied
to Linnaean orders, this is to suggest that the appellation of
the -iformes suffix and the emendation itself, infers 1) that
Linnaean orders have an actual existence beyond making databases
searchable by content criteria, and 2) that this emendation is
just making a name "better." See above for the context....

  Linnaean ranks have no use beyond their subjective
organization of organisms into discrete and exclusive groups,
presuming the paradigm that organisms are arrayed by their
differences, and not by their similarities. That differences are
somehow major -- that if an organism is basal to a radiation,
and seems more similar to, say a more plesiomorphic but variant
form -- if an assumption preyed upon by subjectivity of the
researcher's mind: he sees what makes animals distinct (feathers
from scales, warm blood from cold, legs from fins, gills from
lungs, vascular from non-vascular phyllem, etc.) rather than
what makes them related (legs, fully ossified bones,
differentiated pectoral and hyoid elements, etc.); organization
of organism is not based on descent through any means, but
absolute differentiation. Ranking them down (okay, the single
genus *Opisthocomus* has a family Opisthocomidae, and then an
order Opisthocomiformes, even though it may belong to the
Cuculiformes -- or that the so-distinct genus *Archaeopteryx*
was differentiated from other birds by its own family,
superfamily, suborder, and order, all with ignoring its
relationship to it ancestors). This differentiation is implicit
and continues in recent publications which offers ["The new
taxon does not seem like other taxa it has the most resemblance
to, so I've coined the new family and superfamily (under ICZN
art. ___) '.....' to reflect this"] identical content and
diagnoses. The superfamily, family, and genus (and sometimes
species) all mean and include the same thing, the species. This
means the superfamily and family (and, as some have noted,
genus) are redundant. Even if something can be included closer
to this one species than others, if and when such a situation
arises would be the time to differentiate a new taxon to include
the two. The point is inclusion.

  Note: an explicit example of the above practice is found in
Gerhard Mayr's recent Messel birds descriptions in the last
three years, published in _Evolution_, _Journal of
Paleontology_, and _The Auk_.

  Artiodactyla and its junior objective synonym,
Artiodactyliformes, are names applied to the same taxon. They
are redundant, and the second, newer name, is the same (as a
name) as the first. Remarks about emendation require that
something be wrong or erroneous with the original name, as in
emending erroneous spellings, or applications of suffices in
previously established suffices: *Utahraptor ostrommaysi* became
emended to *U. ostrommaysorum,* because the suffix -i is applied
to two men, thus the ending should be -orum (the ICZN has a
provision for this emendation, because this was the original
etymology intended). The name may be preoccupied: *Rahonavis*
replaced *Rahona* Forster et al., because the name was
preoccupied by a (reputedly) quite fearsome butterfly.
Artiodactyla has no problem with its original intent; the name
"two toes" is emended by Kinman, 1994, to "Order
Artiodactyliformes." That is its name; thus the name becomes
Artiodactyliformes Kinman, 1994. It is used to replace
Artiodactyla on the basis of being searchable on a database and
to reflect a suggestion for standardized endings. Granted this
has been applied to invertebrate animals, and is conventional
for plants, fish, and neornithean birds, but the systematic
revision of existing names into -iformes stems, et al., is in
fact making a new name for the same group. The taxon is called
Artiodactyla, not "the form of Artiodactyla;" the name
Artiodactyliformes is thus a new name for the same group. This
goes for the rest of the names.

  Benton's Eureptilia replacing Reptilia because the latter has
a conventional usage that is uncomfortable for the author is in
the same context, but it is used as an explicit replacement
taxon. There are dozens of other examples, many of which were
discussed on this list.

    And just one final point, admittedly a semantic issue and to
be used generally, not in application to anyone: Hippopotamidae
contains the taxon *Hippopotamus *, but the pygmy hippo
*Hexaprotodon * is differentiated in the taxon Hippopotamoidea,
which serves as the phylogenetic first inclusive specifier
(anchor of listmember HP Jon Wagner) along with Cetacea (not
Cete, which is more inclusive, with more basal fossil members:
Cetacea is a crown group). On mesonychian paraphyly/polyphyly, I
am still looking for the citation. I believe Gingerich is one
author, or one of Thewissen’s students.

  Thank you for the time to read through this,

Jaime A. Headden

  Where the Wind Comes Sweeping Down the Pampas!!!!

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