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Posted by WW on January 25, 2003 at 13:41:30:
In Reply to: Pantherophis posted by Jeremy Pierce on January 25, 2003 at 11:10:42:
:Hello all. I just had a quick question concerning the change of NA ratsnakes from the genus Elaphe to Pantherophis. When is the general public supposed to consider a Genus name official? What group decides that the name is to be adopted? Is the correct term now for NA rats Pantherophis? Thank you in advance for your response and have a great weekend!
A name is never really "official" - at the end of the day, the question is whether a study has presented sufficient evidence to justify the changes proposed, and whether a consensus emerges in favour of the new arrangement. There is no group that formally decides whether a name is to be adopted. Some societies may set up committees that attempt to standardise names (see threads below), but at the end of the day, they have no powers of enforcement, except perhaps on the editorial policy of the journals published by those societies.
In the case of Pantherophis, I suspect that the study will be accepted fairly rapidly and widely. Although perhaps not the best phylogenetic study ever done, it has long been known that the genus Elaphe as conventionally understood is hopelessly polyphyletic, and that all the New World forms associated with it are in realty closer to Lampropeltis and Pituophis than to any Old World Elaphe. Personally, I am of the view that Pantherophis should be adopted, simply because there is not a shred of evidence in favour of the old nomenclature, vs. some in favour of the new version - tha balance of evidence thus favours the the use of Pantherophis.