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Re: Archaeopteryx London specimen made neotype by ICZN
Am 27.10.2011 06:19, schrieb Jaime Headden:
I don't think the nature of "speaking German" has a thing to do with
it. This confusion has persisted regardless of apparent "clear
designation" of what von Meyer meant. They are still trying to piece
out what is _meant_ and what is _inferred_, given the craptascular
lack of specifics in the paper, but what is there is illuminating:
"[...] At the same time I received news [...] that an almost complete
skeleton of an animal covered in feathers had been found in the
lithographic slate. It shows several deviations from our living
birds. The feather which I studied I will publish with an exact
illustration. For the denomination of the animal I consider the term
Archaeopteryx lithographica as appropriate’." -- von Meyer, 1861, as
translated by Kodolsky, 2007:
As far as I can tell, the "the animal" part of the last sentence refers
to the "almost complete skeleton of an animal". The second-to-last
sentence changes the topic back to the feather, and the last sentence
contrasts the feather with "the animal". But see below.
Now, is the original German available anywhere? My memory is not
"Already from the simple middle foot
Metatarsus. Called Mittelfuß, "middle foot", in not too technical
contexts in German.
can be concluded that this animal does not belong to the
Pterodactyls, and the formation of the tail opposes the notion which
we have of birds; and yet the feathers cannot be distinguished from
those of birds. The fossil feather presented by me may come from a
similar animal, for which I have chosen the denomination
Archaeopteryx lithographica (Jahrb. für Mineral., 1861, p. 679)." --
von Meyer, 1862, as translated by Kodolsky, 2007 (ibid.).
Note the object to which the phrase "for which I have chosen the
denomination" is the feather, not the "similar animal."
In this English translation at least, the object unambiguously is the
"similar animal" -- an animal similar to the London specimen, not the
London specimen itself. This looks like von Meyer used a _hypothetical_
type specimen, if any at all. In that case, obviously, I've been wrong
for years, "the animal" in the quote at the top of this message refers
to the species, not to any particular specimen, and the ICZN Opinion was
necessary, even though the feather most definitely wasn't intended as
the type specimen.
In the original German, "which" would take the feminine form to agree
with "feather" or the neuter one to agree with "animal".
The assumption I get from von Meyer's statement is that he presumed
both specimens to be the same taxon,
and that the messy issue of type fixation wasn't even in force in the
time he was doing this.
Definitely! If published today, von Meyer (1861) would be considered to
erect a nomen nudum.
One needed only state provenance and principle charatcers, did not
need to illustrate or photograph, and one was only moderately tied to
Very well said.
The issue then is not what von Meyer considered the type specimen,
but _that_ he considered a type specimen, which I aver he did not.
Ergo, no type specimen was designated, and it has been assumed since
by presumption of the statement that von Meyer was fixated on the
feather, which he'd actually seen and described! Von Meyer most
likely was inspired to the name and structure following _hearing
about_ the body fossil but, sight unseen, he designated the whole
under the umbrella of the name. Badly translated German doesn't seem
to be entering into this.
I now tend to agree.