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Hoser Python Names Available under ICZN Rules

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Posted by Richard Wells on March 06, 2002 at 21:27:03:

In Reply to: Re: White-lipped Python query posted by Wulf Schleip on March 03, 2002 at 22:52:30:

Hello Wulf,

I believe that you are correct in that the Hoser python names should be discussed.
However, contrary to your assertion, all of his new python taxa must be regarded as Available Names under the International Code of Zoological Nomenclature (4th Edition).
Additionally, from my reading of his python revision, and that of the McDowell paper you refer to, I also cannot agree that Hoser used McDowell's conclusions or data in any way shape or form - other than as in the broadest intellectual sense - ie for simple consideration.
My only concern with Ray Hoser's conclusions on Leiopython merely concern the extent of relevance of the available synonymy. I just do not know what represents topotypic albertisi, and although the naming of the dark coloured population of albertisi as a new species might appear needed, what if an older unused senior synonym exists? It is generally believed that albertisi was originally described from western material, but my concern, is that the eastern dark population, also ranges into the region where the original material of albertisi was collected. As I said, I don't know enough about Leiopython albertisi to know what the hell's going on, but I do think that the Hoser paper did not adequately address the available synonymic name. Of course, I do know that the existance of an older unused synonym may not matter a Rat's Rectum, for the new Rules now make it easy to just ignore an older name if it has not been used for so many years, bla, bla, bla. Therefore, Hoser and others might well argue that, even if a technically prior synonym is appropriate for the dark-coloured population, because the older name is an unused name it now has no standing, and Hoser's new name should be the valid name.
However, on principle, should this be the case - i.e. an older synonym is available for this population - then I would recommend against this approach. This betrayal of Priority in favour of a junior name would be appalling, because it effectively removes the objective basis of zoological classification, in favour of the subjective basis of convenience. It is just not good enough to argue that because a name has remained obscure and unused that it should no longer be regarded as valid. Similarly, to argue that because someone has been unable to discover an earlier name, or 'overlooked' it, or worse, deliberately ignored it so that they can describe a new species is pathetic. Claims that such action is consistent with the need for stability in classification as enshined within the Code are little more than short-sighted nonsense in my opinion, and the ultimate in the most infantile justifications for poor scholarship.
There is no substitute for Priority in matters of taxonomy in Zoological Classification, and any move away from that is a move towards the collapse of the Linnean system of binomial nomenclature.
As I said earlier, I just would like to see the earlier names dealt with (say by examination of the Types, and/or evaluation of the original descriptions, before I can support any taxonomic change in albertisi.

Best Wishes from

Richard Wells

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