Paleonet: Holotype and specimen [SEC=UNCLASSIFIED]

Pojeta, John POJETAJ at
Mon Aug 27 10:59:54 GMT 2007

Right on John!!


John Pojeta



From: at [ at] On Behalf Of John.Laurie at
Sent: Sunday, August 26, 2007 10:10 PM
To: PaleoNet at
Subject: Paleonet: Holotype and specimen [SEC=UNCLASSIFIED]




Your statement that "an author would be well advised to select for a holotype just a part of an individual, if it clearly demonstrates his concept of his species" I find extraordinary. So, an author could select a librigena as a holotype, despite the fact that it belonged to a completely articulated dorsal skeleton of a trilobite? Do you really think peer review would allow that to be published?


I also would take issue with your statement that "the Code's aim is to preserve the original authors (sic) concept of his species clearly". It does nothing of the sort. It is designed to enhance nomenclatural stability such that the specimen designated the holotype by the original author, remain the reference specimen for that name. You are confusing nomenclature with the interpretation of the species. The concept behind a species name can be quite fluid and can change with each new publication, but the name may not. The original author's concept of a species is an interpretation based on the specimens he or she has at hand. As you yourself later state the aim of the code is stability and clarity of names, not interpretations.


Your example of a larger foram being sliced into 10 thinsections, only one of which is the holotype while the others may be listed as paratypes will, I am certain, surprise some palaeontologists. Here you have one individual specimen (you sliced it up!) which is both holotype and numerous paratypes. Despite poo-poohing Pierre Kruse's hypothetical example ("you contrived the mess") in one of your previous e-mails, here you confirm his assertion with your own example! This example would, I am sure, alarm some of the authors of the Code. This is similar to my example of the subsequently excavated, cracked ¾ cephalon, which you would have, despite both being clearly part of the same sclerite, as both holotype and not holotype. The only difference is that your specimen is subdivided by a saw and not diagenesis. The fact that you could consider such a single cephalon to be part holotype and part not holotype beggars belief, as does having a single foram being both holotype and numerous paratypes. I think such a stance is untenable.



Dr John R. Laurie 

Petroleum and Marine Division 

GPO Box 378         
Canberra ACT 2601       
Tel: (02) 6249 9412; Fax: (02) 6249 9980 
E-mail: John.Laurie at 

Street Address: 
Cnr Jerrabomberra Avenue & Hindmarsh Drive 
Symonston ACT 2609 

ABN 80 091 799 039 


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