I can't believe I did this, but here it is. All the posts in the subject thread up to the time of this post.
This discussion was so interesting I thought it should be preserved in a sequential reading. Each Conch-L email is preceded by the date, time and name of sender. I edited only slightly to correct spelling and grammar highlighted by WORD and put a few emails out of sequence for better understanding.
As far as I can tell it started with an email from Marcus Coltro.Wed 5/30/2007 4:03 PM – Holotypes - Marcus Coltro (Brasil):
Which are the rules regarding places to deposit Holotypes?
Can anyone deposit a Holotype on a private museum? If not (I hope not....), which are the rules to such museum to be a legalized institution?
I have seen paratypes in private collections but I wonder if a holotype not deposited on an official institution can invalidate the description of a new species.
Thu 5/31/2007 2:53 PM - Andrew Grebneff:
I have numerous specimens (selfcollected) of undescribed species of both fossil & Recent shells from the southern parts of New Zealand in my collection. Many of these are unique, as far as I can tell. I have to admit that I am quite acquisitive, and hate giving-up specimens. However I have deposited specimens in two recognized holotype repositories, and will continue to do so when species are described from my material. My collections are open to any genuine professional researcher for examination or description.
Anyone can donate specimens to an institution (if the institution will accept them), but the specimens MUST have correct locality data, the more specific the better.Wed 5/30/2007 4:56 PM – Richard (Dick) Petit:
Unfortunately the Code does not require deposition. Recommendation 16C states that "authors should deposit type specimens in an institution that maintains a research collection, with proper facilities for preserving them and making them accessible for study ..." Recommendations are just that, they are not requirements.
It is unfortunate that many new species are being published by people who seem to be ignorant of the fact that a Code exists, and who are certainly do not have any "species concept." Some recently described "species" indicate that there are people naming "species" who do not realize that mollusks are not made with cookie cutters, but that species are variable.
Back to your original question, I do not know of any peer-reviewed scientific journal that will publish a new species if the holotype has not already been deposited in a recognized institution. That does not prevent species names published in other places from being available.
Wed 5/30/2007 5:02 PM - Luiz Ricardo L. Simone (Ph.D.
Museu de Zoologia da Universidade de São Paulo Cx., Brazil):
Wow! Richard. Congratulations to the clear arguments!
I hope the people listen to you!Wed 5/30/2007 5:36 PM - Marcus Coltro:
Indeed it is a serious problem that new species have been deposited away from researchers.
Unfortunately, there are authors who own the publication and museum thus they do whatever they want with the holotype.
We are having lots of problems with shells from Brazil being described all over the places and the holotypes being deposited in private collections. But as you say there is nothing we can do to invalidate these papers....
Wed 5/30/2007 7:30 PM - Joseph Prata:
I believe there was a lengthy discussion on this "New Species & New Forms" initiated by John, a few weeks ago, and I agree that there are steps to be followed as suggested by Dick.
Since Brazil Snails are relatively unknown, my suggestion is that there should be serious changes in the naming system, as it is an old fashion and out of date system.
If not then this problem will never be solved and, Marcus as you suggested, collectors are free to do what they want..... I believe in the old theory "Finders keepers."
I would also like to add that back then in the old days they did not have DNA and relied solely on "Describe." Was DNA used by any of the scientist before 1960?
On the other hand I do agree with you that collectors finding anything "Described" differently from specimens found in the old days, whether in shape or color has a right to give it a new name.
I know a collector even published a book just to name snails he found.
Now that’s my 3 cents worth. Finders KeepersWed 5/30/2007 8:46 PM - Richard (Dick) Petit:
What problem is it that will never be solved? It is perhaps unfortunate that collectors are "free to do what they want." However, it is not all that bad as many collectors (and shell dealers) have made material contributions to malacology and to the molluscan literature. It is those who are afflicted with the "I think it’s new so I want to name it" syndrome who are causing the problem. There are very few non-professional malacologists who are familiar enough with the existing literature to know, or even have the knowledge to find out, what species and or forms have been described even in a group in which they "specialize."
Why bring up DNA? DNA is no more a tool for determining species than are many others. For a time the buzz word was cladistics, another tool that was not an end in and of itself. The use of DNA is highly specialized and, depending on selective factors, can give some very strange results.
You state that you know a collector who published a book to name shells he found. Unfortunately that is still going on. What such people do not realize is that the new names they produce will probably, given our lax rules for publication, become part of the literature and will have to be contended with by serious scientists in the future. They think they are creating monuments to their memory, but in reality future malacologists will consider their publications to have come from monumental ignorance.
As for "finders keepers," that would depend on the laws. The last time I donated specimens to a museum I had to fill out a stack of forms attesting to the origin of the specimens and whether or not they had been legally collected and brought into the country. Regardless of the rules, anyone even thinking seriously about the subject will understand the need for type material to be available for study.
Your "3 cents worth" has bought you a response of about the same value ....
Thu 5/31/2007 2:36 AM - Kevin Kutolowski (Locust NC):
Very well Spoken Dick. I agree wholeheartedlyThu 5/31/2007 2:42 PM - Andrew Grebneff:
That couldn't have been worded better, Dick!
Thu 5/31/2007 7:29 AM – Anna Robinson:
I apologise in advance if this is a rather ignorant question, but I thought a new species name had to be accepted by the ICZN before anyone else would give it credence? Who has the final decision?Thu 5/31/2007 8:45 AM – Pete Krull:
Dick; I think the “problem” that everyone has alluded to is that scientists and collectors have never had the same goals and yet each is at the mercy of the other in many instances. Much of the material that scientists study comes from collectors. Collectors have had to rely on scientists to name shells. Collectors have trouble identifying shells. They don’t have easy access to scientific literature. Popular shell books only include a fraction of known species. Also, there are not enough scientists to study and name new forms.
Further, collectors need a level of naming that is more detailed than what the scientific community recognizes. Scientists see all Liguus fasciatus snails as the same. Yet collectors of Liguus could not discuss their hobby without another level of naming that distinguishes different color forms from one another.
Thu 5/31/2007 10:47 AM - Richard (Dick) Petit:
Pete: There is no problem if collectors will be content to name these forms as "forms", or "varieties". It is when such are named as species or subspecies that they cause problems as they then become part of the systematic literature. I do not think I have ever expressed any objection to providing form names. There is certainly a need for collectors to be able to differentiate distinct forms of species but that can be done without introducing a species or subspecies name. Reference has frequently been made to the "old timers" (probably referring to Pilsbry and others) who often named many color forms as subspecies. Science progresses! Thu 5/31/2007 1:56 PM - Pete Krull:
Dick; Having answered the “form” issue, it seems there is still much resentment among collectors and dealers who may invest large sums of money to collect in new or out of the way places. Or, maybe they dive or hire divers, or pay fisherman to come up with “new” species but then not have enough interest or resources from the scientific community to have them researched and named. A newly named species may bring a high price while a new shell without a name is not so easy to sell.
Thu 5/31/2007 5:07 PM - Richard Goldberg:
I guess I can be classified as one of the old timers, even though I'm not that old (relatively). In close to thirty years of being an active conchologist and also dealer, I do remember the days when obtaining shells was to build an aesthetic and/or scientific collection. Involvement in classification was left to the science community. That was then. This is now.
Yes, there was and still is a shred of ego if someone has a species named for them, but I cannot remember one instance where the motive was "I must find a new species to make this worth my while." We were out there because we loved the shells and want(ed) to build our collections. If we had a species named for us in the process, all the better. The satisfaction came with helping the malacological community advance the science.
We all learned a lot back then about how and where to collect shells using new techniques and as travel to remote locations became easier, brought back a wealth of knowledge and material for the scientific community to chew on.
During the past two decades, a resurgence of conchologists (much like the Sowerby family did in the 19th century) turned their energies into malacological pursuits. It became more common with new avenues of knowledge (the Internet), ease of access to new material (field collecting), the advent of vanity publishing on our desktops, and the greater willingness of the new generation of malacologists to work with conchologists. The latter point is very important.
All this has been a major positive for the hobby and science, until the perceived monetary pressures surfaced. It has always been expensive to travel and collect shells. Let's face it, natural history collecting hobbies involve spending money, whether you are an arm-chair collector, or trek to the farthest points on the globe to collect shells or rocks. We all have our own little niche in this hobby. With greater means sometimes come greater contributions. But are those contributions always needed or well researched?
And, do we need a name on every shell we acquire? Probably not, unless you are overly exacting in your cataloging methods. If forced to make a choice, I'd rather have a shell with exacting locality and habitat data, rather than a verifiable name. The drawer of unidentifiable shells, for me, is more intriguing than the perfectly laid out drawer of shells.
Fortunately we can identify many more species than we have in the past due to the wealth of new taxonomic monographs and the ability to disseminate information quickly via the Internet.
As more is learned, more information flows to the public quickly. The rapidity of this information has overshadowed a process, which is becoming a forgotten science. The motivation for placing a name on a shell should be scientifically driven with a series of processes that will lead to a more verifiable outcome. We are going down a controversial road if monetary motivation and the ability to publishing instantly is why we describe species.
There is and should be no instant gratification in research. It has taken some of our most prestigious and knowledgeable conchologists years to become intimately familiar with the literature of their particular area of expertise (taxonomic or geographical). It used to take years to get a new species described in a juried scientific publication. The ability to self publish or distribute small runs of a publication has changed all of that. Today many conchologists have never been privy to the extended process of research, collaboration and juried publications. I am not commenting on non-juried publications since many today are extremely well done and a positive addition to the science, but a quarter of a century ago few if any existed. To get something published as new was difficult if not impossible for an amateur.
Also, it is not researching everything one can about a particular species they think is new. It is about learning everything that can be learned about the taxonomic group in which the species is taxonomically placed; the distribution and relationships between similar species; and a thorough search and understanding of the relevant literature. That is where our most accomplished conchologists have distinguished themselves. Collaboration is another important aspect. Who else is researching a particular group; what have they learned. The process is continuous and fluid.
Given the means, yes, all of this can come together quickly now days. The commercial end should not motivate the science. If it does, we leave our hobby open to extreme criticism from those in the scientific community whom we need to support us in our pseudo-scientific endeavors, and leave a taxonomic morass of for future generations to unravel.
Okay, so I still am an idealist!Thu 5/31/2007 7:03 PM - Dr. David Campbell (University of Alabama):
The ICZN has established laws. Any proposed new name has to obey those laws. However, the ICZN does not review each name. It only reviews in cases where there is a problem. For example, I need to write a notice to the ICZN to request that an obscure and largely but unfortunately not entirely overlooked genus name be suppressed in favor of one of the most frequently cited genera of south Asian unionids. As far as I can tell, no one (including the original
author) has ever recognized that the older name applies to Asian species because the type species locality was wrong. However, the older name has been identified as a validly proposed name in a few modern publications.
My impression is that the ICZN is generally reluctant to suppress legally published names, even if it can be shown that the quality of work was deficient.
>maybe they dive or hire divers, or pay fisherman to come up with
"new" species but then not have enough interest or resources from the scientific community to have them researched and named<
Resources are sparse for the researching and naming of new species.
As other posts have alluded to, it's a lot of work to track down all the previous literature on a group to check for previous names. Often it's necessary to travel to museums and examine specimens to verify types. For example, Dall named the new genus and species Eucymba ocalana based on material from the Ocala limestone of Florida, which he figured, but selected as type specimen a shell from the Moodys Branch Formation in Mississippi. Unfortunately that specimen turns out to represent a very well-described and figured species named much later than Dall's, and the younger accurately descriptive name must be abandoned in favor of Dall's geographically misleading name. Then there's the task of confirming that the form is actually different from all known species, which may require DNA and anatomy as well as shell features. Obtaining a large enough population to characterize the variability (to demonstrate that the new form is not merely a variety of a known one) may be a challenge. There's also the problem of maintaining funding long enough to complete the task of getting names published for one group before you have to get a new source of funding.
DNA is not sure-fire for a few reasons. Like any other feature, different organisms show different degrees of variability in different parts of DNA. Sometimes weird things can happen, such as hybridization, maintenance of divergent alleles in a population, etc.
Contamination can also be a problem.
Thu 5/31/2007 7:52 PM - John Abba:
I would like to add, that even new " Forms " that come into the market sells, of course depending on the beauty of the specimen, interest of the collector or dealer purchasing the specific " Family " in question.
" Holotypes " on the other hand, goes for at least 10 time the amount, and again, depending on the beauty of the specimen, and interest concerned.
Anybody out there coming across any " holotypes ", of any sort, in future, please contact me, as I do collect these.Thu 5/31/2007 8:21 PM - Bill Fenzan (Norfolk, Virginia, USA):
I am bothered by your statement:
"Anybody out there coming across any " holotypes ", of any sort, in future, please contact me, as I do collect these."
The folks that are trying hard to regulate nomenclature strongly encourage depositing holotypes, and other name-bearing types (e.g. Syntypes, Neotypes, and Lectotypes, etc.) in established institutions where researchers can find these shells and study them. Institutions are being strongly encouraged to publish type catalogs of their holdings. It seems counter-productive for any private individual to accumulate these objects. In many cases, types in private collections have been lost forever when heirs do not recognize the value of shells found in the collection of a collector who has just gone to the great beach in the sky. This happens much less frequently to shells deposited in an institution that can conserve them properly and host visiting researchers.
Please reconsider your choice of collecting activity and immediately deposit any holotypes you have accumulated with an appropriate repository.
If you meant to say topotypes (shells from the type locality), hypotypes (shells figured in books), or some other non-name bearing type, please clarify your statement.
Thu 5/31/2007 9:23 PM - John Abba:
Dear Bill and Everyone,
Good point, and I do apologize to all, for not, and would clarifying more on this, Bill. In my poind of view a:
Holotypes : Would be the original specimen found, or specimen used in the Discription of which a " New Species " is made.
Paratypes are specimen's deposited in museums.
I am not too familiar with Topotypes but a good guess would be species found in a specific area. I could be wrong on this, however, I did Google up the name Topotypes and came up with Liguus blainianus Poey, 1851 Topotypes.
Hypotypes are probably as you stated. Probably specimens in figured in books
Coming back to my initial email -- I know of a few dealers & collector friends, a shell book writer/publisher, who have named specimens, in the past, and I have bought their Holotypes off them, long after the specimen have been used in the discription process. (Please, Bill and All, I rather not name these people as I don't have authorization from these people, to put their names on line. Please understand.) For a price. Not many, but I have collected a few Holotypes over the years and would be interested in more. Hard to come by.
I hope this will clarify my initial email on me purchasing and collection Holotypes. Hard to come by, as its the specimen used in the " Discription " of a new species. Usually donated to museums, but in the cases that I came across, kept and over time sold.
Also I would like to contact any collectors who collect " Holotypes " and also a first in " Form Types " Easier for " Form Types " as I usually take the seller word for it or if he has a web site and it is shown.Thu 5/31/2007 9:35 PM – Marlo Krisberg (Merritt Island, FL):
For a layman’s review, the following are the correct definitions for most of the terms being used:
Holotype - If an author relies upon a single specimen to describe a species, that single specimen is the holotype.
Syntypes - If an author uses a group of specimens (sometimes referred to as the type series) to describe a species, the shells in the group are called syntypes. In this circumstance, there is no holotype. (Note: Authors do make mistakes. If a type series actually contains more than one species, the description the author produces may be flawed. This circumstance has been the source of much confusion with species named by not so meticulous authors. See neotype, below.) Member Charlie Sturm notes that "Sometimes, in older literature, syntype is known as co-type."
Holotype - If an author uses a group of specimens to describe a species and designates one to represent the species, then that one becomes the holotype.
Paratypes - If an author uses a group of specimens to describe a species and designates one to represent the species (the holotype), then the others in the group are called paratypes. (Note that authors do make mistakes and all specimens in a group examined may not be the species described and represented as the holotype. That is why identification comparisons should be made to the holotype, lectotype or neotype if at all possible.)
Lectotype - If, after an author names a species based upon a group of syntypes, a later author designates one of the syntypes to represent the species, it is called a lectotype. If the original author relied upon syntypes and included an illustration of one of the specimens, that specimen is also often referred to as the lectotype.
Paralectotypes - If a lectotype is designated, then the other paratypes in the original syntypes group become paralectotypes.
Neotype - If all the above types for a species are lost and descriptions/illustrations are ambiguous, an author can select a suitable specimen to represent the species, clarify the description, and designate that specimen as the neotype.
Iconotype - The illustration of the type created with and to facilitate the original description. If the original type material is lost this illustration may serve as the type. If the illustration is a photograph, then Phototype might be used instead of Iconotype.
Type locality - The type locality is the locality for the holotype, lectotype or neotype.
Thu 5/31/2007 11:06 PM – Fabio Wiggers:
I guess the problem with Holotypes and Paratypes in private collections is that in time they sooner or later get lost. This creates a huge taxonomic problem because researchers can't compare their material with those used in describing the species. In time, the species tens to be placed in uncertain place as nobody is sure if the description was precise, and then the name tends to be forgotten (nomem oblitum - not used as valid in the last 50 years).
There are many examples of type material in private collections that can no longer be traced. Fortunately, some of this material end up in institutions, like the collections of Morch, Spengler, Lamarck and others. Peter Dance has a marvelous book on this matter called "A history of shell collecting".
I also guess that the main problem is that collectors rarely keep old labels and therefore destroy the possibility of tracing material from their collections. I hope John have kept this type material labels and one day he donates (or sells) this material to a institution.
And John, be very careful when buying holotypes! Many times those specimens have been stolen from institutions! It has happened here in Brazil a few times and curators don't like to talk about it, but it happens.
Indeed a Holotype is the single specimen the author designate as so when describing a species. If he/she has used more specimens in the description, those are Paratypes. If the author has not named any single specimen as Holotype all of them are Syntypes.
A Topotype has no taxonomic recognition, and is any specimen collected in the same type locality (locality where the holotype has been collected or localities where all the paratypes have been collected).
The term "type form" is used very widely between orchid collectors (i am one of them) to express that the flower is of the same variety as the type, and not an variant. Is the term type form used in the same sense?Fri 6/1/2007 12:43 AM – worldwide:
If a person squirrels away Holotype shells for their own aggrandizement in the belief that Holotypes are valued far above market value, then why have main stream dealers not started publishing Holotype price lists? The reason is one of ethics. I believe most dealers understand the importance of working within a
(the) system. And the system in which the scientific community uses, the ICZN, states that Holotypes should be deposited in Museums or public institutions where they are accessible to current and future generations of researchers. That is why Holotypes and the first few Paratypes of newly published species are "almost" always deposited in scientific institutions and not in private collections. Of course, anyone can do as they please -- buy, sell or trade in scientifically important type material -- with impunity. But what are the chances that after a shell collection ripe with Holotypes is going to have a cash value in orders of magnitude? More than likely very little chance. I believe a serious collector would rather purchase a shell of exceptional size and/or quality irrespective if it is a type specimen. Type shells are typically more representational of a species rather than of superior quality. Is squirreling away Holotypes in a private collections anti-science? I guess that is for each of us to decide.
Fri 6/1/2007 8:47 AM - Bob Lipe (The Shell Store, St. Pete Beach, FL):
Dear group. My feelings in a nutshell. Holotypes should never be sold or bought. There should be a new Shell Law with teeth that says the Holotype should be put in a Museum etc. and a Paratype should go to another Museum in case the Holotype is lost. How can we look up a Holotype when it's in your home. Other Paratypes can be given away to people that are interested, and I guess they can be sold. If we don't straighten out our act we are lost.
I've only named one shell and guess where the types are? In two different Museums, and the other Paratype is in my collection.Thu 5/31/2007 1:44 PM – Peter Krull:
Dick; Then, if a collector or dealer or any lay person names a form, what is the preferred method of labelling a shell for, say, a shell show? Should the author be the species or subspecies author or the form author, or both? Thanks, Pete
Fri 6/1/2007 9:40 AM - John Abba:
I wish to thank everybody that has given moments of their time, in reading my reply on Holotypes and Paratypes. It was really Bill Fenzan that asked me to clarify this.
Bill -- Thanks for the list, and link to the code at ICNZ.. Will try it as soon as I have the time. Am getting more information on this topic which I never had.
Marlo -- Thanks for the link for your site. I have added it onto "My Favorites" and will be into it more, in the coming days. However I did not notice the definition on "Topotypes and Hypotypes" as suggested in Bill's initial discussion, and also Fabio's " Sintypes "
Fabio -- Thanks for the information on stolen Holotypes. I have only heard of two, all these years, and the institution involved replaced the shells with a similar Hypotype shell. Yes, sort of kept mum on this
Regarding old papers, Holotypes, I have purchased always came with --- Location, Date found, A page or two of " Description, diagrams " plus a number, that’s similar to " Holotype Illustration or Illust. Code of the intuition, Number " plus author. Sure hope that are authentic.
Some but not all, papers were old but well preserved in plastic... The paper work is what’s worth the sentimental value to me, not really the shell.
I have always taken any seller's word for these Holotypes and, in my opinion, there is nothing to be gained from respected conchers selling fakes. Never have I checked with institutions either, on whether they are the Originals as Described.
And finally Richard, OK, (not really that old, as stated in your email, last night, but probably one of the best Terrestrial Conchologist in modern day times) However I was a little saddened by your reference that Holotypes should be kept in institutions, but, reluctantly have to agree. Holotypes should remain in institutions, and John Tucker, "No" I do not purchase them for re-sale value. Again it’s the sentimental value I am after, on collecting these.Fri 6/1/2007 7:34 AM - John K. Tucker:
Just a quick correction. The word is "syntype" and to have one you must have two or more. A lectotype is by definition a former syntype and the other syntypes become paralectotypes. There are many sorts of "types" but the primary ones (holotype, paratype, syntype, lectotype, and paralectotype) are the only ones that carry nomenclatural importance. The others such as topotypes (a specimen collected at the original type locality and horizion if a fossil) are important from a systematic view. There is, by the way, a huge difference between nomenclature, systematics, and taxonomy. For those who are captivated by it, remember DNA is just another character. It is the only one where authors regularly get away with a sample size of one.
Fri 6/1/2007 9:59 AM - Eddy Wilmet:
I agree that Holo and Paratypes should be conserved in a Museum. I've only one burning question, in which museum? Are all museum equal? I don’t think so. Shouldn't there be some specific ruling appointing one or two specific museums in each country and not every single museum which pretends to have a malacological department? This would make malacological studies easier and prevent you from running around from one national museum to another (local, provincial or state-museum) in the same country.
Concerning buying or keeping the holo-para and other types, I think it's rather a trivial discussion. I've been extensively collecting for over 40 years one particular family and only came across 2 or 3 of these shells. My guess is that over 99,99% of the holo and paratypes are being kept in "a" museum. Any serious collector will donate his specimens to "a" museum.
I think collectors and scientists need to work together and show mutual respect which is often not the case.Fri 6/1/2007 10:36 AM – John Abba:
I did mention feeling bad in keeping the few I have, in my last email on this, and, Eddy, you do have a point. In which institution? Will everybody that has these Holotypes in their private collection give them up?? It does come to a huge number of specimens. Probably put it to the tens of thousands.
Fri 6/1/2007 10:53 AM - Dr. David Campbell (University of Alabama):
Several considerations go into selecting an appropriate institution to house type material. Is it stable and likely to continue to care for the material permanently? Is it readily accessible to researchers?
Are they equipped to deal with type material? Unfortunately, some seemingly secure institutions have later disappeared. Nevertheless, the preservation of institutional collections has historically been far better than the preservation of private collections.
Institutions that house type material are encouraged to publish catalogues so that the information is readily available.
Note that the designation of "type" categories is more tightly defined now than in the past, so material from an old collection labeled as some sort of type deserves careful investigation-it may or may not be of importance.
My type material is in the Smithsonian.Fri 6/1/2007 9:18 AM - Art Weil:
Just a question: exactly WHO is the ICZN?
Fri 6/1/2007 11:04 AM – Dr. David Campbell (University of Alabama):
ICZN=International Commission on Zoological Nomenclature. It is made up of taxonomic specialists from around the world who develop and update the rules and who vote on decisions where the rules are unclear or where an exception is needed. I think there're about 40 people on the commission, expert in various taxonomic groups.Fri 6/1/2007 1:25 PM – Linda Bush:
Why should I give up my paratype of a recently named species, when the person who gave/sold them to the dealer was the museum professional who described the species?
Fri 6/1/2007 1:48 PM - Paul Callomon (Collections Manager
Malacology, Invertebrate Paleontology and General Invertebrates Department of Malacology Academy of Natural Sciences, Philadelphia PA):
There is nothing at all wrong with people keeping paratypes in their own collections. Remember that there is no limit on the number of paratypes you can select in an original description, so if you want to reward the people who got you the shell, your accountant, travel agent, whoever, then by all means add another paratype to the type series and give it to them. The more paratypes there are, the more material exists that can (usually) be used to identify that species by direct comparison.
Holotypes are another matter. The ICZN only 'recommends' that holotypes be placed in a suitable museum or other institution, so there is technically no bar to keeping them yourself or selling them. In the old days, indeed, dealers like Sowerby and Fulton used to sell primary types (syntypes, mainly) and mark them as such too, to put up the price. In those days, on the other hand, women couldn't vote, tigers were shot by the hundreds for fun and orphaned children were sent to factories at age eight, so just because something has been done in the past does not mean we should still be doing it now.
The main reason for urging anyone who describes a new species to place the holotype in a publicly-run institution is the hope that its whereabouts will thus still be known in a hundred years' time. Some little private museums keep collections of primary types, and to be fair some of them do as good a job of preserving them and making them available as any larger institution. Very few small private museums last beyond the lifetime of their founders, however. Then there are certain other private museums that are run by people with as scanty a knowledge of - and regard for - the conventions of science as some of the contributors to this forum. Sadly, these are usually the hardest people to persuade that they are doing anything wrong, and the first to take such suggestions personally.Fri 6/1/2007 3:24 PM – Charlie Sturm, Jr. (Research Associate - Section of Mollusks Carnegie Museum of Natural History Pittsburgh, PA, USA):
I don't condone the sale of any type material. If it was up to me, all of it would be deposited in institutions that were able to care for it and make it available to those who needed to study it. Having said that, I am less concerned about paratypes being in private collections. Holotypes should be in institutional collections and I feel this should be an ICZN regulation.
At the Carnegie there is one lot of a unionid. There is the holotype and about 200 paratypes. In addition dozens of paratypes were sent to other institutions when this taxon was named. Thus you can see that the scientific impact of a few paratypes being in private hands would have little impact.
On the other have, I am currently working on two other taxa that I believe are not described. One is a single specimen. I have been working on this one for 17 years! I am still reviewing the literature to make sure that it has not been described. I'm getting close to finally submitting the paper. The other taxon was one that for which I had a single specimen. I recently received 3 more specimens. All of the specimens of these two taxa will be deposited in the Carnegie's collection. There are too few to keep in private hands.
Fri 6/1/2007 6:27 PM - Barry Roth:
If the museum professional was employed to work with the animal group in question and made a private sale, he or she would seem to be operating under a conflict of interest. The terms of employment of some museums prohibit their employees from maintaining private collections in their specialties.Fri 6/1/2007 9:10 PM - John K. Tucker:
I agree with Paul that holotypes should be deposited in an institutional collection as a requirement for availability. The ICZN should require this and also should define what an institutional collection is and is not. It is not some cobbled up big name for some ones private collection just to give it an institutional look. It would not be all that difficult to come up with a listing of recognized type repositories and could be one exists now in the museum world. There is no doubt in my mind that the many faux institutions given for many of the descriptions of new species will cease to exist when the blush is off the rose. Many of the descriptions in the non-peer reviewed press make attempts to appear scientific but in my opinion these are pseudo-science. They are pale imitations of classic or modern malacological science.
It is also my opinion that description of new species by shell dealers is by definition a conflict of interest. It is simply a way to provide a name to market the shell under. These names are really scientific fluff and will die in due course. I am an old timer and these same things were happening in the 1970's and 1980's. I complained then about it in HSN print editions. It is as though the Sowerbys' ghosts are still with us. This is particularly a problem with groups that draw big prices such as Conus and Cypraea. I have no qualms about buying specimens and appreciate the efforts of dealers that I do business with. I draw the line when that dealer is naming things in private publications or in supposed journals of nearly no circulation. I understand it is easier to sell Conus eumitus for a big price than it is to sell something listed as a blue Conus textile but let someone else name it. Dealers finding new species should work with malacological specialists (Not me! I have never described a cone shell despite working with them for over thirty five years. I might someday, but only in the context of a larger study of many taxa from particular geographic areas). This might be frustrating but that is the way it is.
I think that anyone who takes the step to describe a new species should be confident enough of this to submit the work to a peer-reviewed journal. I do not mean one with an editorial board but one that uses outside anonymous review. If the paper is rejected maybe there is good reason and the revision will be much better. I have heard all of the complaints about peer review but would you like your new wonder drug to get approval based on a study submitted to the local health magazine? If it is good enough, it will publish. I should venture the opinion that fewer than 35% of the cone shell names published post-1990 actually represent distinct biological entities.
There also is a huge problem in collections (private and institutional) based on material assembled by collectors. These specimens never represent the actual populations from which they were drawn. There is always some underlying bias in what is collected and what is saved versus what is discarded. If you look at some species such as Conus anemone from southern Australia, collectors save the ones with high spires but leave those with the normal low spires. Thus, you get the idea that the high-spired form is typical for the region. It is not. In random samples more are similar in spire structure to C. anemone from elsewhere. The high-spired shells are actually teratogenic specimens. Similarly, trawlers bring up all the Brazilian cones but they are sorted and every less common color now has some foolish name. I would never believe these as valid without seeing a publication based on the shells just as the trawler collected them not as the dealer sorted them. Moreover, with few exceptions, you would be hard pressed to prove that these objects actually contained a snail at one time. One value of institutional collecting is that generally the collectors collect everything and everything ends up in the collections. This is almost never true of private collections or collections donated by private collectors to museums.
Sat 6/2/2007 3:09 PM – Marlo Krisberg (Merritt Island, FL):
John Abba wrote: "Marlo -- Thanks for the link for your site. I have added it onto " My Favourites " and will be into it more, in the coming days..However I did not notice the definition on "Topotypes and Hypotypes " as suggested in Bill's initial discussion, and also Fabio's " Sintypes. "
I believe Fabio meant "Syntype."Topotype
- A specimen taken from the type locality.Hypotype
- A described or figured specimen used in a publication to extend or correct the knowledge of a previously defined species. A hypotype would be any images/descriptions published after the holotype, syntypes, lectotype, or neotype have been established, but does not replace them. Rather, hypotyes are later publications that serve to illustrate and provide further information about a species.
For an example of a hypotype presentation go to this example: Cerithium atratum
John, I've added these definitions to the terminology webpage
for future reference.Sat 6/2/2007 5:10 PM - Fabio Wiggers:
Yes, i did. I always spell it wrong. Sorry, i'll take extra care.
Fri Jun 1, 2007, at 12:42 AM - worldwide:
Type shells are typically more representational of a species rather than of superior quality.Fri 6/1/2007 2:40 PM - Peggy Williams (author of Shallow Water Turridae of Florida and the Caribbean):
Ho, Ho. Have you looked at C B Adams' types? Most of them are so beachworn they are hardly recognizable (true also of some of Reeve's, not to mention Nowell-Usticke's!)
Sat 6/2/2007 10:02 AM - Art Weil:
Question: Can (or should) a beachworn "typeshell" be replaced by a better conditioned example? Purists will argue "NO!" But it might be worth talking about.Sat 6/2/2007 4:23 PM - Charlie Sturm, Jr. (Research Associate - Section of Mollusks Carnegie Museum of Natural History Pittsburgh, PA, USA):
It is not open for argument or discussion. Once a holotype is selected, it is fixed. There is no provision to allow it to be changed (unless it is
Sun 6/3/2007 12:18 AM - Chris Takahashi:
And a holotype should possess qualities that best emplifies the characteristics that makes the species unique. Sometimes only a few specimens are available for study so a holotype may be a lesser quality
representative than expected. Sun 6/3/2007 9:50 AM - Pete Krull:
I think anyone who is qualified should be able to name species and subspecies as well as forms. To assume that only "scientists" should be allowed to do this is no longer practical. First because scientists are just as likely to make mistakes as "enthusiasts". Look how many shells have been named more than once by scientists over the years. And look how many color forms have been given specific and subspecific standing by scientists. A knowledgeable collector or dealer who may or may not have access to all the scientific literature, may be more qualified to recognize a new species than a scientist who has access to the literature but little practical experience with the group of shells in question.
I specialize in colorful land shells and quite frankly the descriptions of new species and the literature written by scientists over the last 150 years, right up to today, is, in many cases just plain wrong. I would much rather see Richard Goldberg naming new Amphidromus than any scientist.
If a dealer or collector names a new species and someone, scientist or not, disagrees or has conflicting evidence, then put it in writing. Mistakes can always be fixed no matter who made them. And chances are that the new species is at least a new form.
Sun 6/3/2007 3:58 PM - Bob Lipe:
I'll have to agree with Pete Krull. I have named one shell and I don't have a degree and I am a dealer. It was of course a Marginella. I did let a couple of experts read it over before I summited it and they found nothing wrong. I've never sold a specimen of the shell that I named, but I could if I wanted to. I was a collector, expecially a Marginella collector long before I sold shells. The trip to West Africa in the 70s was responsible for me becoming a shell "proprietor". I hate the word "Dealer". Car dealer, drug dealer, etc. are looked upon distastefully. For some collectors, Shell dealers are not your favorite people either. Just remember most of us are shell lovers too. If we go to a thankless and most of the time unprofitable job of naming a shell after doing a lot of research we shouldn't be shot down. Thank you for listening.Sunday, June 3, 2007 10:22:33 PM - Charlie Sturm, Jr. (Research Associate - Section of Mollusks Carnegie Museum of Natural History Pittsburgh, PA, USA):
I don't think that only "scientists" are able to name shells, however,
anyone professional, semi-professional, or amateur should exercise the
same diligence in doing so. I would like to recommend a few books that may
be useful to those interested in this topic.
The International Code of Zoological Nomenclature was already mentioned.
The website for the e-version was mentioned in an earlier post. If folks
missed it just search for ICZN and it should be the first or second hit. I
personally like the print version. I find it easier to flip back and forth
between different sections.
International Commission on Zoological Nomenclature. 1999. International
Code of Zoological Nomenclature, 4th. ed. International Trust for
Zoological Nomenclature, London. xxix + 306 pp.
I would also mention that the Commission works with a shoestring budget.
All donations are appreciated. (note I have no connection to them). It
might be nice if some clubs, individuals, COA would consider making a
donation to furethering the cause of a stable nomenclatural system.
The next book is Judith E. Winston. 1999. Describing Species. Practical
Taxonomic Procedure for Biologists. Columbia University Press, New York.
xx + 518 pp.
Lastly, Daniel Geiger wrote a brief introduction to the ICZN, the idea of
naming new species and genera, and the different categories of type
Geiger, D.L. 2006. Chapter 10. Taxonomy and Taxonomic Writings: A Primer.
In. C. F. Sturm, T. A. Pearce, and A. Valdes, The Mollusks: A Guide to
Their Study, Collection, and Preservation. Universal Publishers, Inc.,
Boca Raton, FL. pp. 147-159.
Monday, June 4, 2007 12:28:19 AM - Barry Roth
I'll second the recommendation of "Describing Species" by Judith Winston, and not just because she used one of my land snail species descriptions as an example of how to do it. In fact I would place it above the International Code on the list of must-have books. Of course, one wants to be familiar with the rules and recommendations of the Code itself, but "Describing Species" really gives the nuts-and-bolts that a potential species author needs.
Another element, previously discussed on this List but not much mentioned in the current threads, is the need for peer review. All responsible scholarly journals submit submitted manuscripts to review by third parties, and the value of this process for uncovering overlooked problems or suggesting ways for improving a paper cannot be overstated. Objections to the process ("I [the submitting author] know more about this new species than anyone else, so how can a reviewer help me?" -- and so forth) are cop-outs; and an editor often needs external opinions to come to a decision to publish or not to publish a submitted paper.
Final observation: some posters write about "describing species and forms" as though that was the same process. Again -- the point made by so many before me: "forms," as infrasubspecific entities, are not covered by the rules of the ICZN and do not enter into formal zoological nomenclature. I suppose there really are no rules regarding naming "forms" -- caveat emptor.Monday, June 4, 2007 9:15:34 AM - Pete Krull:
“Final observation: some posters write about "describing species and forms" as though that was the same process. Again -- the point made by so many before me: "forms," as infrasubspecific entities, are not covered by the rules of the ICZN and do not enter into formal zoological nomenclature. I suppose there really are no rules regarding naming "forms" -- caveat emptor”
My thought on this is that shells often described as new species or subspecies often turn out to be just forms of other species. The reverse of that could certainly be true as well, especially in the realm of land shells where even the genus is often changed when new research is done. Therefore I don’t think we can completely disassociate the naming of forms from the naming of species even though the ICZN does not recognize forms. Shouldn’t anyone naming a “form” be as diligent as someone naming a species just in case it’s later determined that the form is a separate species?
Monday, June 4, 2007 9:23:35 AM - Marcus Coltro (Brasil):
Indeed, I agree that it is not a problem of non-biologists describing new species, but the way they do it. If the research is made with the proper care and revised by someone who has the knowledge then I think it should be validated.
The major problem is when collectors decide to describe shells without doing the proper research, not even checking if a similar species was already described. Not mentioning some publications which don't require any revision from a serious staff of scientists. This way we have dozens of names for the same Cypraea for example, just because it has bumps on its side, different color or any minor