In a nutshell... no.
Hoser's *Broghammerus* for example is here to stay as the genus of the
Reticulated python if recent work on python phylogeny is accepted.
(Rawlings, L.H., Rabosky, D.L., Donnellan, S.C. & Hutchinson, M.N. (2008)
Python phylogenetics: inference from morphology and mitochondrial DNA. Biological
Journal of the Linnean Society 93: 603-629)
Don't forget that Hoser's sins pale in comparison to Wells & Wellington
1984/1985 - 3 (effectively) self-published, non-peer reviewed papers that shoddily
described/resurrected hundreds of new species/genera of Australian/New Zealand
None of their nomenclatural declarations were accompanied by much in any detailed
diagnoses, much less fulfilling all requirements of ICZN arcana. Many names like
*Vaderscincus* (Darth Vader skink) and *Eroticoscincus* (Sexy skink) were clearly
of a mischevous nature. In some cases Wells & Wellington had not even seen the
type specimens or had scooped other authors who were in the process of describing
the taxa concerned.
In the following years, a massive campaign was mounted by hundreds of Australian
scientists in an attempt to convince the ICZN to suppress the publications,
rendering all their taxonomic proposals null and void. Ultimately, ICZN ruled in
(Williams, D., Wüster, W. and Fry, B.G. (2006) 'The good, the bad and the ugly:
Australian snake taxonomists and a history of the taxonomy of Australia's venomous
snakes.' Toxicon, 47: 919-930)
Since then, many of W&W's names have found general acceptance:eg. Antaresia, Eroticoscincus,
Rankinia, various subspecies of the Carpet Python (mcdowelli, cheynei, metcalfei etc - described
as new spp. by W&W). In at least one case, a legitimate researcher has had his proposed (and
properly described) nomen sunk into a W&W taxon at the behest of an ICZN ruling (Varanus
teriae Sprackland 1991 => V. keithhornei W&W 1985).
From: owner-DINOSAUR@usc.edu [owner-DINOSAUR@usc.edu] On Behalf Of Dan Chure
Sent: Monday, 14 June 2010 4:26 AM
Subject: Re: Publication Validity and Quality
Does anyone know if the ICZN ever ruled on the Hoser's snake taxonomic
work? There may be some relevance here.
Harris, Jerald wrote:
I think the debates raging here, SV-POW, and elsewhere, stimulated
unintentionally as they were by Rob Gay's booklet, are good, healthy, and
necessary. But in order for there to ever be some resolution to this set of
problems, perhaps it's time that we started discussion about _solutions_,
rather than circling around the issues. I know that PhyloCode has some verbage
discussing the requirement for peer-review, and that's a start, but here's some
* who should (or will) define what is and is not a "publication" for the purposes of
taxonomic validity? The ICZN? The PhyloCode? A third, entirely separate committee? The ICZN, as
others have noted, is either wholly intractable and stolid, or else it moves in a tectonic time
frame and is therefore useless in light of the rapid pace of technological change. I don't know
nearly enough about the PhyloCode to comment on its ability, but have to wonder whether or not the
idea of a publication is too different from its primary mandate to need to fall under its purview.
A third organization -- the International Commission on Publication Validation or somesuch...? Who
would be on that commission -- taxonomists, obviously, but should publishers have representation,
too? Who would choose these people? Of course, even if such a body existed and had a set of
definition, how would it be enforced? Or labeled (e.g., a "stamp of approval")?
* what criteria should be used to define "publication"? Most seem to believe
that peer review should be a primary consideration, and I actually agree...but as many
have noted, it's hardly a universal panacea -- there have been perfectly awful papers
published that have been through obviously lapse peer review, down even to terrible
grammar, let alone facts. It's obviously impractical that all peer reviews should have
to go through some sort of singular committee that assesses whether or not the peer
reviews have been adequate -- actually, that's what individual editors (or editorial
boards) for individual publications are _supposed_ to do, so it all comes down to
individual variation between editors...and some are clearly more lapse (or less able, I
hate to think) in doing their duties...perhaps for perfectly valid reasons (they have to
teach, write grant proposals, write papers of their own, supervise students, etc.), or
perhaps from sheer laziness (or laissez-faire attitude about acceptability). Would
reviews be any better if, for example, reviewers were paid to review? If there were
full-time reviewers without other duties? Should publishers themselves, then, have a say
about what they will or won't accept? Are they even educated enough on the subject to do
so? I'm not pretending to have any answers here -- I've spent a fair amount of time
thinking about this subject and haven't come up with any answers...personally, I try and
apply a very high standard of rigor when I review papers, but I'm far from perfect and
certainly miss things, especially on subjects where my own knowledge is, um, less than
maximal. So when I see crap get published, I get a bit irked with the authors _and_ the
reviewers, and wonder how the heck the paper passed muster -- obviously, _my_ idea of
muster, but clearly not a _universal_ concept of muster!
Food for thought...
Jerry D. Harris
Director of Paleontology
Dixie State College
225 South 700 East
St. George, UT 84770 USA
Phone: (435) 652-7758
Fax: (435) 656-4022
"I have noticed even people who
claim everything is predestined, and
that we can do nothing to change it,
look before they cross the road."
-- Stephen Hawking
"Prediction is very difficult,
especially of the future."
-- Niels Bohr
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