Rules of Nomenclature

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In your review of Mr. Massee's monograph of the Myxogastres (NATURE, p. 365) I notice the sentence, “Under the generally accepted rules of nomenclature, this leads to Massee standing as the authority for many species, transferred by him, in reality, to another genus.” I take this to mean that, for example, a species of which the trivial name is, say, abii, and which was originally described by an author Xyz, and referred (erroneously) by him to the genus Cdia, has been transferred now to another (the correct, according to present knowledge) genus Efia, and the name is now printed in this work not as Efia abii, Xyz, but as Efia abii, Massee. I am aware that this course is frequently adopted, but surely not “under the generally accepted rules of nomenclature.” There is no copy of the British Association “Rules” within reach here, but my recollection is that they prescribe a different course, viz., to retain as authority for a species the name of the original describer, and that is the course adopted in, I think, most of the Challenger reports, and by very many zoologists. I may state briefly as an example the first case that occurs to me—I have no systematic books here to refer to. (1) About 1870 Cunningham described a new Ascidian as Cynthia gigantea. (2) About 1880 Herdman transferred that species to the genus Molgula. (3) In the Challenger report this species figures as Molgula gigantea, Cunningham; and I would submit that that, rather than the course indicated in the review, is “under the generally accepted rules of nomenclature.”

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HERDMAN, W. Rules of Nomenclature. Nature 46, 417–418 (1892) doi:10.1038/046417c0

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