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Type: Article
Published: 2024-06-27
Page range: 30-42
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Conservation of Coluber lanceolatus as the valid name of the Martinique fer-de-lance (no matter who its author is)

Department of Biology and Center for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Stewardship; Villanova University; 800 Lancaster Avenue; Villanova; PA 19085; USA
Department of Biology; Avila University; Kansas City; MO 64145; USA
Serpentes Viperidae Bothrops diadochonym nomen oblitum nomen protectum availability precedence

Abstract

The fer-de-lance of Martinique is a pitviper of medical importance and conservation concern. It was described by La Cepède in 1789 as Coluber lanceolatus but as a result of a ruling of the Commission (Opinion 1463) this nomen is unavailable. Although a proposed new use of the Plenary Power by the Commission could restore the availability of Coluber lanceolatus La Cepède, 1789, this possibility remains hypothetical and under the Code-compliant interpretation, C. lanceolatus was made available by Bonnaterre in 1790 who proposed a homonymous poieonym. Coluber lanceolatus, which, as Bothrops lanceolatus, is currently universally accepted as the valid nomen of the fer-de-lance, is at risk because of the existence of two older nomina that apply to this taxon, Vipera cærulescens Laurenti, 1768 and its replacement name Coluber glaucus Gmelin, 1789. Consequently, we here provide the evidence necessary to demonstrate that Vipera cærulescens and Coluber glaucus are nomina oblita and to designate Coluber lanceolatus, under both the current proposed interpretations of its authorship, as a nomen protectum. Coluber lanceolatus Bonnaterre, 1790 has precedence over Coluber brasiliensis and C. tigrinus, two nomina with which it is considered synonymous and which were made available in the same work. However, precedence was established as a result of determination by the First Reviser only as recently as 2021. The case of Bothrops lanceolatus highlights that even well-established and widely accepted nomina may be potentially vulnerable to destabilisation by long-forgotten synonyms and illustrates the particular nomenclatural complications that can arise from valid Bonnaterre nomina that are homonymous with long-used but now unavailable La Cepède names.

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