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This is not entirely clear. The International Code of Zoological
Nomenclature deals with this, as follows:
>From: Chris Nedin <firstname.lastname@example.org>
> > One question here. Since Chatterjee has already described the skull in
> > peer-review, would that not mean that the skull must retain the name
> > "Protoavis" and only by proving an association between other body parts and
> > the skull could you assign the name "Protoavis" to those body parts? Rather
> > than the first revisor arbitrarily assigning the name to any body part.
Only the holotype, syntypes, lectotype or neotype bears the name. All
other specimens are simply referred to that species, and can be moved from
one taxon to another by anyone for any reason. Or moved back by another
>This depends on how Chatterjee specified the type specimen in the
>article. If he listed the entire skeleton, as he believed it to
>be, then the whole is the type specimen, even if he didn't fully
>describe the rest. (Actually, the article I have does figure
>the entire skeleton, even if the most detailed treatment is given
>to the skull).
"Type specimen" has many meanings in the Code (Chapter XVI). See below.
>Now, if he specified only one piece as the type specimen, then that
>piece bears the name, and the first reviser can do nothing about it.
This single piece is then called the holotype, and all other specimens are
referred to it.
>The critical spot in the article is the section *right* after he
>states his intent to name a new species (using the formula
>"Protoavis xxxxx n. gen, n. sp."). At this point there is a
>paragraph that specifies the type specimen. Whatever is listed
>there is the type specimen, and if *that* list contains material
>from more than one organism, then the first reviser can attach the
>name to any subset of that particular list. Any specimens or pieces
>mentioned or listed elsewhere in the article are considered part of
>the "type series", but not of the type itself.
The question here is which specimen is the holotype or name-bearer. In
the case of mixed elements assumed to have been from the same organism,
each element can be interpreted as a separate specimen. If an author
designates a set of elements as the holotype, they are technically syntypes
and should have been so designated. They remain syntypes until a single
specimen is selected to be the name-bearer, which then becomes a lectotype.
Holotypes can only be designated by the original author in the original
description. The term lectotype indicates that that specimen has been
selected as the name-bearer later than the original description. The Code
has recommendations on how to select a lectotype from the syntypes, but no
one is compelled to follow any recommendation other than the lectotype must
come from the series of specimens that constitutes the syntypes. In cases
of an articulated specimen, it is usually designated as a holotype based on
the assumption that all the elements constitute a single specimen. It is
probably not a good idea to do that, even though it hardly ever causes
problems, because it obscures the definition of holotype as a single
specimen in those cases where the relationship of the elements to each
other is not clear.
Not all specimens listed in a paper are syntypes unless the author has
designated them as syntypes, types series, or notes that the description is
somehow also based on them. Note that a neotype is designated when the
holotype, syntypes, lectotype, or prior neotype no longer exist(s) (is lost
Art. 73F states "Where no holotype was designated and where it is possible
that a nominal species-group taxon was based on more than one specimen, an
author should proceed as though syntypes may exist and, where appropriate,
should designate a lectotype rather than assume a holotype " See also Art.
>[Indeed, a new species can be named officially just with the few
>paragraphs following the formula - the more detailed description
>is not necessary: the critical parts are the specification of the
>name, the specification of the type, and the differential diagnosis,
>which last need only contrast it with other similar forms]
Correct. Very little is required for a valid description. But of course
we should make our descriptions useful to others by carefully including
whatever we deem important, include illustrations, and be very careful
about following the Code. Many object to following the Code, but it is
simply a list of rules to keep chaos from reigning in the same way traffic
rules do. For most of us, the Code is not a problem, but in a case like
the one described here where there may be controversy about which elements
go together, then the Code becomes useful so that we can communicate
meaningfully with one another. Science is mostly about communication,
since it cannot be considered science unless it is communicated to the
community for testing.
>The peace of God be with you.
Especially after you deal with the ICZN!
Jere H. Lipps
Department of Integrative Biology &
Museum of Paleontology
University of California at Berkeley
Berkeley, CA 94720
510-642-9006 fax 642-1822