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Published: 2020-02-03

Allocation of nomina to taxa in zoological nomenclature

Institut de Systématique, Évolution, Biodiversité, ISYEB – UMR 7205 – CNRS, MNHN, UPMC, EPHE, Muséum national d’Histoire naturelle, Sorbonne Universités, 57 rue Cuvier, CP 30, 75005, Paris, France
nomenclatural allocation nominal-series class-series onomatophore onomatostasis conucleogenus coalienogenus metrostensional and orostensional nomenclatural systems uniostensional and pluriostensional systems


       This paper explores two aspects of the question of the allocation of nomina to taxa in zoological nomenclature.

       The widespread belief that this allocation is effected only through onomatophores (‘types’) is shown to be wrong: if onomatophores only were involved, each zoological nomen would apply to all the taxa including the specimen(s) designated as onymophoront of each species-series nomen, up to the animal kingdom. Onomatophores do not provide the limit(s) of the taxon/taxa to which they apply. These limits are provided by two other pieces of information: the nominal-series to which the nomen of a taxon is assigned and the onomatostasis of this nomen, i.e. the onomatophore of the sister-taxon of the taxon under consideration.

       In species-, genus- and family-series nomenclature, the onomatostasis of a nomen is not fixed but depends on the ergotaxonomy (working classification) adopted, which is ideally based on at least one accepted phylogenetic hypothesis. The situation is more complex in the class-series nomenclature. So far, the stages of taxonomic allocation and nomenclatural validity in this nomenclature have not been regulated by formal Rules shared by all zootaxonomists, so that chaos and miscommunication are in order regarding the Criteria to be used in these domains, which is detrimental to zoological nomenclature and its perception by the international scientific community. The adoption of clear and strict Rules in this respect appears as an urgent need. These Rules should allow both to provide clear objective Criteria for the allocation of class-series nomina to taxa, but also to validate the few very well known and consensually adopted class-series nomina (pansozonyms). For this purpose, five possible nomenclatural systems of allocation of nomina are compared. The best solution appears to have two different systems, one for almost all nomina (distagmonyms), and one only for pansozonyms. The latter system relies on a special kind of onomatostases, which are fixed and do not depend on the classification adopted: this allows to attach permanently these nomina to some well-known higher taxa, whatever changes are brought to the cladistic hypotheses and ergotaxonomic frames.


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