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Re: Archaeopteryx London specimen made neotype by ICZN
OPINION 2283 (Case 3390) Archaeopteryx lithographica von Meyer, 1861
(Aves): conservation of usage by designation of a neotype. Bulletin
of Zoological Nomenclature 68 (3): 230-233
The Commission has set aside all previous type fixations for the
nominal species Archaeopteryx lithographica von Meyer, 1861 and
designated a feathered specimen (BMNH 37001) in the Natural History
Museum, London as the neotype. The holotype (a feather impression)
was not identifiable to species and could belong to any taxon of
fossil birds recognised from the Solnhofen limestone.
A good but unnecessary decision, because the feather never was the
holotype. The paper that describes the feather and erects the name
attributes the name to a then very recently discovered, undescribed and
not illustrated skeleton that must be the London specimen. This is done
in a throwaway remark at the end of the paper, but it's nonetheless
clear that the name is attributed to the skeleton and not to the
feather. It's along the lines of "oh, and I hear a skeleton has just
been found which could be called *Archaeopteryx lithographica*".
Of course, this throwaway remark would by no means count as a modern
holotype designation. Still, it is unambiguous in attaching the name to
the skeleton and not to the feather.
The relevant passages of that paper used to be online somewhere, and
several people commented on them on this list, myself included. More
recently, that website was taken down, as I then mentioned on this list.