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Re: Monotypic genera and the PhyloCode



Quoting Michael de Sosa <stygimoloch81@hotmail.com>:

> >I think many people would agree with the idea that a name that
> >traditionally refers to a species should be used for a species, and a name
> >that has traditionally NOT been used for a species should NOT be used for a
> >species. Regardless of how much easier it is to remember one or the other,
> >swapping names between two different categories of taxa (clades and
> >populations) is a pretty bad idea.
>
> But for many fossil genera with only one known species, the generic name HAS
> traditionally been used for the species.

And here we've gotten to the crux of the matter:  traditionally, we tend to use
the species as a kind of basic unit of evolutionary biology (though the
individual or the population would in many ways be better).  However, the basic
unit of taxonomy is actually the genus:  it is the genus name that must be
unique, for instance.

If we're going to get rid of binominals, I think the best way to do it is to
have a straightforward way of converting a binominal into a "uninominal" that
encodes the same information.  My proposal (which I predict both Mike and Jon
will instantly dislike) is as follows:

1.)  Any species that has been named as the type species of a genus will take on
that generic name as its uninominal.

2.)  All other species will be converted by having the specific name compounded
with the generic name.

3.)  In cases where a plant and an animal have been described with the same
generic name, whichever species was named first will be considered the type
species for the purposes of (1) and all others (animal and plant) will be
converted as per (2).

So, for what is now _Parasaurolophus_, we would have:

_Parasaurolophus_ (=_P. walkeri_)
_Tubiciniparasaurolophus_ (=_P. tubicen_)
_Cyrtocristatiparasaurolophus_ (=_P. cyrtocristatus_)

Sure, it makes for some long names, but they are one-word names that uniquely
identify species.

Nick Pharris
Ph.D. Candidate
Department of Linguistics
University of Michigan