Linnean taxonomy

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(copied from Palaeos com and Wikipedia, but still needs plenty of more wikifying)
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==What's in a name?==
==What's in a name?==
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The formal international agreement on names, ranks, and so on, is laid out in the International Code of Zoological Nomenclature, The International Code of Botanical Nomenclature, and the International Code of Nomenclature of Bacteria.  These set guidelines and publish a reports containing the rules of nomenclature.  For example, the Law of Priority (Article 25) says that if a genus or species has been accidentally given two names, only the earlier one is valid.  The later name becomes a "junior synonym".  This is the case even when it is better known (or more evocative).  To give a famous illustration, the Jurassic dinosaur Brontosaurus, named by the 19th century American paleontologist Othniel C. Marsh in 1879, was later found to be the same animal as Apatosaurus, which was actually named by the same guy two years previously (this was during the great dinosaur rush when Marsh and his rival Edward Drinker Cope were engaged in a bitter feud to see who could discover the most prehistoric animals!).  Therefore Apatosaurus is the correct name, even though "thunder lizard" (Brontosaurus) would seem more appropriate than "deceptive lizard" (Apatosaurus), and even though the later name honors the same man (maverick paleontologist Dr Bob Bakker has suggested using Brontosaurus anyway!).  A similar thing happened with Eohippus ("dawn horse") and Hyracotherium ("hyrax beast").  The better known, more appropriate name was later fond to be describe the same animal as had been previously named.  In some cases things are not so clear cut, and a ruling from the Commission in charge of these things is necessary to decide which name to use.
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The formal international agreement on names, ranks, and so on, is laid out in the [[International Code of Zoological Nomenclature]], the [[International Code of Botanical Nomenclature]], and the [[Bacteriological Code of Nomenclature]].  These set guidelines and publish a reports containing the rules of nomenclature.  For example, the Law of Priority (Article 25) says that if a genus or species has been accidentally given two names, only the earlier one is valid.  The later name becomes a "junior synonym".  This is the case even when it is better known (or more evocative).  To give a famous illustration, the Jurassic dinosaur ''Brontosaurus'', named by the 19th century American paleontologist Othniel C. Marsh in 1879, was later found to be the same animal as ''Apatosaurus'', which was actually named by the same guy two years previously (this was during the great dinosaur rush when Marsh and his rival Edward Drinker Cope were engaged in a bitter feud to see who could discover the most prehistoric animals!).  Therefore ''Apatosaurus'' is the correct name, even though "thunder lizard" (''Brontosaurus'') would seem more appropriate than "deceptive lizard" (''Apatosaurus''), and even though the later name honors the same man (maverick paleontologist Dr Bob Bakker has suggested using ''Brontosaurus'' anyway!).  A similar thing happened with ''Eohippus'' ("dawn horse") and ''Hyracotherium'' ("hyrax beast").  The better known, more appropriate name was later fond to be describe the same animal as had been previously named.  In some cases things are not so clear cut, and a ruling from the Commission in charge of these things is necessary to decide which name to use.
The complete scientific name includes genus and species, the name of the scientist who first described the species in a scientific journal deemed valid for taxonomic purposes, and the year that the paper was published.  By convention that the genus and species are written in italics (or, where that is not possible, underlined, or even _underlined ascii wise_).  The generic name is always capitalized, the trivial or species name is not.  So we have (to use the above illustration) Apatosaurus ajax Marsh, 1877
The complete scientific name includes genus and species, the name of the scientist who first described the species in a scientific journal deemed valid for taxonomic purposes, and the year that the paper was published.  By convention that the genus and species are written in italics (or, where that is not possible, underlined, or even _underlined ascii wise_).  The generic name is always capitalized, the trivial or species name is not.  So we have (to use the above illustration) Apatosaurus ajax Marsh, 1877

Revision as of 20:07, 6 October 2006

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