Are Photos Enough to Name a Species – #365papers – 2017 – 82

#365papers for March 23, 2017

Garraffoni and Frietas, 2017, Photos belong in the taxonomic Code: Science, v 355, p. 805

Gutierrez and Pine, 2017, Specimen collection crucial to taxonomy: Science, v. 355, p. 1275.

What’s this about?

The International Code for Zoological Nomenclature lays out the requirements for naming a new species of animal. Included in this this the requirement of a preserved specimen Ithe type) to be kept at a museum for reference. Garraffoni and Frietas argue that for specimens that don’t preserve well (that is, they break down and can’t be effectively studied after preservation), that a photograph or photographs should stand in instead of a preserved specimen. Gutierrez and Pine argue back that even if a specimen is reduced to goo, it should still be required if only for the possibility of DNA preservation.

Why does it matter?

We have to have rules about naming species, or else anyone can name them. Having a reference specimen is an important part of this.

Why did I read this?

I’ve been lecturing on the definition of species and the requirements to name new species. This seemed like a good let of letters to read.

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